ALLEGANY — James F. Hastings rose from being a member of the Allegany Town Board to the House of Representatives. He died Friday at age 88 at the home of his son, David, and his family on West Branch Road.
A moderate Republican, Mr. Hastings served on the town board from 1953 to 1962, and he served as town justice. He served in the New York State Assembly from 1963 to 1965 and was elected to the State Senate in 1965, serving until 1968.
He was elected to succeed former Rep. Charles Goodell of Jamestown after Rep. Goodell was appointed by then-governor Nelson Rockefeller to the Senate seat of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
“I was on the (Cattaraugus) County Legislature when Jim was in Congress,” James J. Snyder, R-Olean, said Monday night. “I was friends with Jim when he was the justice of the peace in Allegany.”
Mr. Snyder recalled the “Republican bloodbath” when Mr. Hastings and the late Cattaraugus County Sheriff Morgan Siegel ran for the Assembly in 1963.
“He was very well liked and moved into the State Senate, where he did a good job before moving on to Congress,” Mr. Snyder said. “He was a good public servant.”
Rep. Hastings resigned from Congress Jan. 20, 1976, after he was convicted of taking kickbacks from congressional employees and mail fraud. He spent 14 months in the federal penitentiary at Allenwood.
Mr. Snyder said Mr. Hastings would probably have gone on to become speaker of the House had he not been convicted.
Jamestown Mayor Stanley Lundine succeeded Rep. Hastings as representative of the 39th Congressional District, serving for 10 years before he declined to seek re-election to run as Mario Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor.
As a member of Congress, Rep. Hastings sponsored a bill in 1975 to repeal the earnings limitation of the Social Security Act, and he was a co-sponsor of a bill to provide health insurance to the unemployed who were covered by their previous employer.
Mr. Snyder recalled that Mr. Hastings attended an annual election luncheon at Moonwink’s Restaurant a few years ago.
“I think Jim would like to be remembered as a small-town Allegany boy who did very well,” Mr. Snyder said.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)