IN THE PEWS: A conversation with Tony Leone

It seems as if everyone knows Tony Leone. That’s probably because Tony makes it a point to get to know everyone he meets. And he meets a lot of people through the business he has operated for years, the political positions he has held, the community service he treasures and through the parish he loves.

You really enjoy politics. You spent 25 years on the Yorkville Village Board — 19 as village trustee and six as mayor. You’re now on the Oneida County Board of Legislators representing the 23rd District, which is all of North Utica and parts of East Utica. What do you like most about politics and representing people?

I enjoy politics because I enjoy being involved in the community. I enjoyed most of my 25 years serving on the Village Board in Yorkville. Listening to the issues and trying to make a decision to best benefit the residents I represent.

What do you like least about politics?

Sometimes you are trying to accomplish something you definitely believe in and some people twist the issues and you end up failing to accomplish your goals

Before moving to North Utica, you lived in Yorkville for more than 35 years and you still are a member of the Yorkville Fire Department and were an EMT for 12 of those years. How did you get involved in the fire department?

In the early ’80s, after living in the village for a few years, I got to know some of the residents in the village and I was asked to join the Yorkville Volunteer Fire Department. It was my first step in getting involved in the community. I became an EMT in 1985 and also got involved in the Yorkville Little League when my sons started to play.

Was there a point in time that influenced you to become involved in community service?

I’m not really sure what influenced me to get involved in community service, I just thought I should give back some of my time. The community was good to me in supporting my business; I just wanted to give something back.

Your two sons are in law enforcement. Do you think in some ways they are following your lead?

I believe my sons followed their own path. They both knew they had the opportunity to follow in my footsteps and learn my business, but I never forced it on them. I believe they have followed my lead in one respect because they are both good at what they do and respected by their peers. My daughter is also very successful in her career choice.

You enjoy spending time at your family camp in Old Forge. What’s the best part about it?

Old Forge — I call it God’s Country. My love for Old Forge started with my father back in the ’60s when I was very young. We are very fortunate to live such a short distance from the Adirondack Park. I enjoy spending time with my family and especially my grandchildren at our family camp in Old Forge.

You’ve also been involved in our parish volunteering in a number of ways. You once served on the parish council, volunteered at the festival for about the last 20 years and co-chaired the festival the last three years. You’re also an usher. Why do you do it?

Again, I enjoy getting involved. If you know me you know I’m a very social person, and again I like to give back and stay involved. 

What does Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament mean to you?

St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament was my father’s church, my grandparents’ church, my church, my children’s church, my grandchildren’s church and, hopefully, in the future my great-grandchildren’s church. I’m sort of a traditionalist. I enjoy the traditions at Mount Carmel. It’s no doubt one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese. It was built by our Italian immigrants and I always say they can’t or won’t make them like this anymore.

How has your faith influenced your life?

Faith has influenced my life in many ways — just in the ways I give back my time and resources back to the community, how I’ve raised my family and how I’ve conducted the manner in which I’ve run my business. I do believe in the power of prayer and I believe in helping the less fortunate, which is something that is widely practiced at our giving community here at Mount Carmel.

If there was one piece of advice you gave to your kids and will pass along to your grandchildren, what was it?

Whatever path you choose in life, work hard, be good at what you do and keep God, your faith and your family close to you.

Tony Leone

Age: 66.

Family: Married to the former Mary Rose Romano for 41 years. Three children: Nicholas, Vincent and Marisa. Six grandchildren: Josie, Evy, Vincenza, Deacon, Santino and Liliana.

Education: Thomas R Proctor Class of 1971; Mohawk Valley Community College; degree in electrical technology; certificates in refrigeration and appliance repair.

Occupation: Refrigeration and appliance business since 1974.

Interests: Bowling, golf, Syracuse University basketball season ticket holder.