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Former Rochester City Councilmember & educator, Tim Mains has died

Former Rochester City Councilmember and city school district official, Tim Mains
CITY Magazine/file photo
Former Rochester City Councilmember and city school district official, Tim Mains

A prominent former Rochester City Councilmember and school district official has died.

Tim Mains, who most recently was superintendent of the Pine Bush Central School District, died suddenly on Thursday. He was 73.

According to Mid Hudson News, Mains lived in the Town of Wallkill and the police chief there told the newspaper that they received a call for a medical emergency and despite the efforts of EMS and police personnel, Mains died.

The Pine Bush district put out a statement saying that Mains saw the district through some very challenging times. It also said that throughout his tenure, “Tim proved himself to be a dedicated and passionate supporter of the Pine Bush school community, its students and families, as well as faculty and staff.”

Mains had been superintendent of the Pine Bush district since 2017. Prior to that, he was superintendent of the Jamestown School District from 2013-2017.

Mains was a longtime Rochester City Councilmember, for around 20 years, starting in 1986. He also had made an unsuccessful run for Rochester mayor.

Mains worked as both a teacher and an administrator in the Greece and Rochester school districts.

In 1985, Mains was the first openly gay man in New York State to be elected to public office.

On Thursday, Rochester Mayor James Smith, who is the city’s first openly gay mayor, issued a statement stating that Mains broke significant barriers for the LGBTQ+ community when he became the first gay member of City Council.

Smith said that Mains was “a vocal and well-known activist for gay rights long before his initial forays into politics.” And Smith said that Mains “was incredibly passionate about helping those impacted by AIDS and HIV,” and greatly valued public service, particularly public education.

Smith, who is in office as mayor just for the month of December, ordered that flags at city facilities remain at half-staff in honor of Mains. The flags already had been ordered at half-staff earlier in the week for the passing of local Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch.

Incoming Mayor Malik Evans (who takes office Jan. 1), also issued a statement saying that he worked with Mains in several capacities over the years, calling him “a dedicated educator who worked to better the lives of young people.”

Evans said that he was impressed with “Tim’s deep knowledge of city finances and his passion and love for the city.”

The path that Mains took is one that Rochester area Assemblymember Harry Bronson knows well. Bronson is the first openly gay elected member of the New York State Legislature outside of New York City.

Bronson was not surprised by the outpouring of positive comments on social media that followed news of Mains' death.

“He gave it 100-percent every single day. He worked hard when he was on City Council and doing full time, educational stuff," said Bronson. "He was an activist and in the early years and would never ask anybody to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself.”

Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said the district is “extremely saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Mains. Tim was a long-standing leader at the Rochester City School District and was highly regarded throughout his career.”

This story includes reporting by former CITY Magazine reporter Tim Louis Macaluso.