The chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party will step down early next year due to health issues.
In a letter to his steering committee, sent to regional media outlets Thursday morning, Mark Barie said he is still recovering from the effects of a brain aneurism and three strokes that he suffered nearly two years ago. He will resign from his post as chairman on Jan. 15, 2013.
"The constant fatigue and other medical problems make it impossible for me to carry on in the fashion that I would like," Barie wrote. "Nevertheless, I hope you will agree with me when I say that UNYTEA has made a difference."
(Enterprise file photo)
Barie told the Enterprise his successor will likely be decided after the Nov. 6 election.
UNYTEA was formed about four years ago and played an active role in the 2009 and 2010 elections, especially in New York's 23rd Congressional District. The group hasn't been much of a force in this year's election cycle, although it did endorse Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny early on, and it held a candidate forum in New York's new 115th Assembly District.
"We have informed the general public and our friends in the media of the dangers faced by our nation as a result of decades of tax and spend policies in Washington," he said. "UNYTEA has also spawned a new generation of political activists and candidates all across the North Country, who believe as we do, that our taxes are not too low. Our spending is too high.
"And finally, while we have yet to celebrate a victory in the NY 21st Congressional District, I think it fair to say that we have at least elevated the debate and forced all of the candidates to seriously consider our mantra of lower spending, reduced taxes, and limited government."
Doheny, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in New York's new 21st Congressional District, said in an emailed statement that Barie "built a movement" in the North Country.
"He gave a strong, collective voice to conservatives across this vast congressional district who were angered by a government that was giving out bailouts and handouts at every turn," Doheny said. "Mark channeled their frustration into action, and the members of UNYTEA continue to work hard for the candidates who share their goal of smaller government and fewer taxes.
"While I understand his reasoning for stepping down, it's still a great loss for his organization and his community," Doheny added.
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