Christopher Mega, prolific Bay Ridge politician, 80

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Christopher Mega, a former Republican state senator and assemblymen whose prolific career, work ethic and omnipresence at community events transformed the way Bay Ridge politicians did business, died on Sunday after a long illness. He was 80.

The Borough Park native served in the assembly in the mid-1970s, and was later elected to the state senate — but lost his first re-election campaign by just 300 votes to Democrat Joe Montalto. But the loss changed Mega for the better.

“He never stopped running,” Montalto remembered. “I would go to a community meeting, and he’d be at that community meeting. I’d send out a mailer, and he’d send out a mailer. He didn’t give up.”

The doggedness paid off for Mega, who beat Montalto and then won re-election. He also became chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, where, in the early-1990s, he worked to expand state prisons to accommodate the huge influx of inmates convicted on crack-related charges. He also was an advocate for tougher sentences for convicted sex offenders.

He helped bring pre-kindergarten programs to his district and sponsored the bill that required restaurants to display posters showing Heimlich maneuver instructions in their eateries.

Mega was appointed judge on the Court of Claims in 1993, where he served until stepping down in 1998 to run one last time against then state Sen. Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) for his old senate seat. The move drew criticism because he would have been paid his pension as a judge and former state senator, in addition to his full salary, were he elected. But he lost that election to Gentile, presently the neighborhood’s councilman, who remembered the race, and Mega, fondly.

“It was an epic battle,” said Gentile. “We may not have agreed on certain issues, but I respected him for his principles that he stood by. He was a good advocate for the community.”

Mega graduated from Fort Hamilton HS, then studied at St. Francis College and Brooklyn Law School.

His first job was as an attorney at a Fifth Avenue law firm, where he was partner. In 1973, he ran for an open assembly seat during a special election, a seat he held until 1978, when he ran — and won — his first senate seat, which at that time covered much of southern Brooklyn.

But he was most remembered for his omnipresence — sometimes attending five community events a night.

“He told me one thing,” remembered state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), “ ‘People want to see you, to be a part of you, and to know that you’re going to respond to their needs.’ ”

Mega, who suffered from dementia, died surrounded by family at his home in Saratoga Springs, NY.

He is survived by his wife, Madelyn; his two sons, Chris and Jeffery; and his two daughters, Valerie and Jackie.

The funeral will be at St. Ephrem’s Church [929 Bay Ridge Pkwy. between 10th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge, (718) 883-1010], Nov. 5, 9:30 am.

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pat K from Bay Ridge says:
Good Man Good Conservative, the likes we'll never see again. Did good things for Bay Ridge, made it a good place to live. Represented his constituents well.

Nov. 5, 2011, 11:08 pm
Fred Fritsch from Bay Ridge says:
Chris Mega was an eminently decent man with a gentle nature who took a genuine interest in the people he encountered. A true citizen in every sense of the word, he served his constituents faithfully regardless of their political affiliation. Though he was an effective and respected legislator and jurist, I and my family will remember Chris Mega best for his humanity. May he rest peacefully in the comfort of the Divine Light.
Nov. 14, 2011, 12:21 am
Judi B from Bensonhurst says:
I am so saddened to hear of Chris Mega's death. I really liked the man.
Nov. 23, 2011, 3:33 pm
Aaron H. from formerly from Boro Park says:
I knew Chris Mega when he was Chief Judge of the Court of Claims and I worked for another Court of Claims judge. Chris Mega was the nicest, most thoughtful person. At about the time Judge Mega was retiring, my 10 year old son came into the Court of Claims offices. Judge Mega took the time to meet with my son, show him around and gave him two plaques with pens commemorating bills Judge Mega had sponsored as State Senator, which he had received from Gov. Mario Cuomo, along with a picture of an Air Force plane that I believe was flown by Judge Mega's son. My 10 year old son was thrilled and when I informed my son, who is now 23, of Judge Mega's passing, he remembered the Judge, the gifts he received (and still has), and Judge Mega's graciousness. I will always remember Chris Mega fondly and with great respect. My he rest in peace in Heaven where he surely belongs.
Nov. 28, 2011, 10:03 pm

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