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State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, center, speaks in 2014 during an Auburn forum by the Senate Heroin and Opioid Addiction Task Force.

Sarah Jean Condon, The Citizen

State Sen. Michael Nozzolio has always been there for Auburn, according to the city's Mayor Michael Quill.

Quill's sentiments come after Nozzolio, R-Fayette, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Nozzolio has represented parts of Cayuga County for the last three decades. 

In a statement, Nozzolio said doctors informed him that he will need open heart surgery to replace faulty valves.

Quill said he understood Nozzolio's need to focus on his health, though he is nevertheless sad to see the senator go. The mayor's relationship with Nozzolio dates back to Quill's time as chief of the Auburn Fire Department about two decades ago.

Over that span, Quill said Nozzolio has remained a great advocate for Auburn's needs.

"He has always had an open-door policy and was always very respectful for the people here in the city of Auburn," he said. "He's always been willing and able to listen to us about our concerns."

Daniel Fessenden, executive director of the Emerson Foundation, said Nozzolio's presence will be missed from the ranks of state leadership.

Fessenden said he viewed Nozzolio as a political mentor when Fessenden served as the state Assemblyman for the 126th district from 1993 to 1999. When Fessenden first ran for election in 1992, he said he was joined by Nozzolio in what became the first of 12 winning elections for the senator.

Nozzolio's work has been "exemplary" as the senator really worked to immerse himself within the communities and the needs of his district, Fessenden said.

“Mike Nozzolio has set the bar for what public service can be," he said. "He has devoted himself tirelessly. I don't think anyone has worked harder in public office than Mike Nozzolio."

Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.