Tonawanda News — A North Tonawanda councilman who suffered a severe heart attack last month may return to light duty in the near future.
Alderman-At-Large Mal Needler, who joined the council in 2011, was rushed from his home to Buffalo General Hospital after suffering the heart attack. He credited the quick response of the city’s fire and police departments for saving his life.
He said he still has months, if not years, of cardiac rehabilitation before he is given a cleaner bill of health, though he may begin partaking in city affairs once again in the coming months. He’ll wait until he visits several specialists however before he makes that determination.
“I may attend a meeting or two via conference call,” he said, in an interview with the Tonawanda News this week, his first since the heart attack took place. “I’m going to try and ease into it. I find myself getting tired out easily.”
Sounding weak, though optimistic, during the brief interview, Needler said he has changed his perspective on life since the incident took place, yet he hadn’t lost his sense of humor.
Needler, who spent more than 20 years as a Niagara County legislator and had retired from the New York Power Authority about a month before he had the heart attack, quipped: “I expected more out retirement,” before adding: “Now I’m going to take it one step at time. I have different goals and there’s a different vision for me now. But I enjoy my work on the city council and I’m looking forward to starting back.”
The council is already preparing for a shortage, with Alderwoman Nancy Donovan stepping down on Aug. 6. Three individuals have submitted applications to the council to fill out Donovan’s term, which runs through the end of the year. Interviews will be conducted by current members next week, according to council President Rich Andres, who added the absence of Needler’s presence and leadership has left a hole in city governance.
“It’s a phenomenal recovery from the reports we’ve heard that stops just short of being a miracle,” Andres said. “He’s certainly been missed on the council side but on the human level we want to give him as much time as possible to recover. The council is trivial when it comes to life and death situations.”
Contact reporter Michael Reganat 693-1000, ext. 4115.