Tonawanda News — Former North Tonawanda Mayor James A. McGinnis died Tuesday morning at his Florida home, the city’s present mayor said.
The Democrat served one term as mayor from 1993 to 1997 and also held the post of Niagara County Democratic Party chairman.
Early details of his passing were scant, but several Democratic politicos were quick to laud his time as mayor.
Another former Democratic mayor, Larry Soos, said he has been long-time friends with McGinnis and his family.
“I know he was really a very well-respected gentleman,” Soos said. “I never heard a harsh word about him from anyone.”
Soos said McGinnis was known for having a large family, a scenario that led him to return to Western New York seasonally.
“He had a big family with twin boys,” Soos said. “He moved to Florida where he’s been going for several years. But he stays with his son in Wheatfield and would come up here in the summertime.”
McGinnis was also known as an avid golfer, Soos said, a hobby that led him to push for the formation of the Deerwood Golf Course.
“His biggest accomplishment was getting the original 18 holes at Deerwood,” Soos said. “It was an uphill battle that brought in revenue to the city ever since. He wanted the golf course, he realized it was a money-maker.”
Current North Tonawanda Democratic Committee Chairman Mark Houghton said McGinnis’s son, James K. McGinnis, followed his father’s path into politics, serving as “the youngest clerk in the county legislature about 15 years ago.”
“I want to pass on my condolences to Jim McGinnis and his family,” Houghton said.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, worked alongside McGinnis and while Schimminger’s district at the time did not include North Tonawanda, the veteran lawmaker said the former mayor served as a mentor.