A tireless elected official is stepping down from her office after close to 30 years of Queens advocacy.
Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn announced that she will retire from the Assembly effective April 1. Mayersohn said she is leaving her office serving District 27 in Flushing because now just feels like the right time.
“I have served 28 years in the Assembly,” she said. “There comes a point when you just know that it’s time to go.”
Mayersohn said that the decision to leave came easily once she thought about how much more time she could spend with her grandchildren. She also wanted to make clear that this decision was completely hers – and that no one pressured her to step down.
“Every decision I’ve ever made has been my decision. It’s not as if I spent two weeks in the Assembly and now I’m leaving. It has been 28 years,” she said. “My family and my colleagues understand that and they are very supportive.”
Her long tenure in the Assembly allowed Mayersohn to accumulate a long list of bills that she championed throughout her career. She is perhaps most proud of her Baby AIDS Law in 1996 – which required doctors to tell mothers of HIV infected newborns of the child’s condition. Previously, parents were not told of the child’s condition, since it was considered a violation of the mother’s right “not to know.”
The passage of the bill is a memory that Mayersohn holds very dear to her heart. She said that the night it passed was, “one of the most exciting nights of my life.”
“It was sheer insanity the way that disease [AIDS] was treated,” she said. “I knew I was doing the right thing and after three years, it [the bill] passed.”
Other bills Mayersohn championed include the Partner Notification Law in 1998, which required doctors to notify the New York State Health Department when a patient tests positive for HIV; the HIV Rape Law, in 2007, allowing a court to request that an accused rapist be tested for HIV; and the Food Service Law in 1991, requiring food service workers to use sanitary gloves and utensils when working with food.
“I worked on bills that I was really excited about and managed to get them passed,” she said. “I accomplished everything I could’ve hoped to accomplish.”
Upon leaving office, Mayersohn credited her staff for their hard work, which she believes made their office “one of the best in the legislature.” She singled out her chief of staff Michael Simanowitz, whom she worked with for 15 years.
“I have seen him grow into a real leader in the community,” she said.
As for what her life will hold post-public office, Mayersohn said that she will remain in Queens – the borough that she never stopped fighting for.
“I’ve lived here 50 years. It has special place in my heart and I am not leaving,” she said. “I did what I could for the people of the borough and of the state.”
Mayersohn’s retirement means that a special election must be held for District 27 in the Assembly. It will be the first special election held since Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new law extending the grace period between a seat’s vacancy and an election.