The 73-year-old Democrat made the comment yesterday as he officially announced that he will retire when his 10th term concludes after the November elections. Hinchey recently completed treatment for colon cancer, and he told supporters the experience gave him a greater appreciation for his family and friends.
"This life-changing experience helped put everything in perspective for me," he said.
New York legislators are wrestling with how the state will drop two of its 29 congressional seats under the once-a-decade redistricting process. Hinchey's exit gives lawmakers an opportunity to cut a district without displacing an incumbent.
"I feel, frankly, very strongly that the integrity of the 22nd District, which had encompassed the same general area for four decades, should be preserved and remain largely intact," he said.
Hinchey, known for his environmental advocacy, said he was especially proud of his work on behalf of the cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson River and his efforts against hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, known as "fracking." He also noted his support of Interstate 86 along the Southern Tier and transformation of an old railway bridge over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie into a popular pedestrian bridge.