State Sen. John Bonacic has been in government for decades, serving as an assistant district attorney, a local planning board member, an Orange County legislator and a member of the state Assembly and Senate.

But the veteran lawmaker says his goal of achieving balance in his life – making time for family, focusing on policy as well as politics, cultivating friendships across the aisle – has kept him from trying to climb any higher on the political ladder.

It’s no surprise, then, that Bonacic’s district office in the Hudson Valley is filled with mementos of family and friends, and only a handful of the awards and photos with big-name politicians that feature prominently in the offices of many of his colleagues.

“When you look around my office, you will see more family than you will see pictures of presidents or political relationships or prominent elected leaders, both nationally and statewide,” he said. “I have those pictures, but I don’t keep them in my office.”

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  • Family trip to Vail, Colorado - "It was back in the '80s. That's my son on the left. I took him on his high school graduation to Vail. I had never skied before, and I learned to ski in a hurry. ... I became a senator upstate - I have Belleayre, I've got Windham and I have Hunter. And naturally, we try to bring economic vitality there. And they come in my office, and they say, what the heck is this Vail? Where's the other pictures of your other ski resorts?"
  • Harlem Globetrotters Game - “That was a highlight because we played with a lot of our colleagues. When I went up to the Assembly – I was an assemblyman for nine years – you had the Democrats on one side and the Republicans on the other, and really you couldn’t interconnect socially. It was strictly business and everyone went their own way. By playing basketball, I got friendly with many of the Democrats in the Assembly.”
  • Son and Daughter - “These are my kids – my son Scott, who’s an attorney, and Melissa, who’s a teacher. And I have three grandchildren, all boys.”
  • George W. Bush, Bonacic and Gov. George Pataki - “That would have been in the city when the governor had George Bush in on a Republican fundraiser. George Pataki and I used to hang out together when we were in the Assembly. He loved to play basketball like I did. I can remember when he got elected and beat Mario Cuomo, we were ecstatic because he was the underdog, and we went down to New York City in the Hilton, and I said, George, it’s like you hit a three-point jump shot. And he said, ‘While being fouled!’”
  • Senator John Bonacic Emergency Department, Catskill Regional Medical Center - “I discourage people naming things after me while I serve. … There were two that were done, one without my permission, a park in Delaware County, and the Sullivan County emergency room was named after me. … I’ve saved three hospitals from bankruptcy, my rural hospitals. We’ve had 13, and I’m never going to let a rural hospital go out on my watch.”
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan - “I think this is a great guy, and he would make a great pope, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see it. He’s got good political instincts, too, and he relates to the common person.”
  • Fire helmets - “When you get something like this, you’re an honorary member of that fire company. It’s not just, hey, you’ve done a good job, here’s something to remember us by. There’s three fire companies we’ve saved or have identified with me that I’m an honorary member.”