Following 15 terms in the House of Representatives, Congressmember Gary Ackerman has announced he will not run for re-election – providing an unanticipated conclusion to a 34-year political career.
Ackerman decided not to seek a 16th term despite the likelihood that his seat would be spared under the Congressional redistricting process. His announcement has reportedly baffled many of his Congressional colleagues, who assumed he would seek re-election with the primary-free backing of the Democratic Party virtually assured.
The 69-year-old Democrat, who was elected to Congress in 1983, currently represents the 5th District, which encompasses the North Shore of Queens and Long Island. His term of office will end on January 2, 2013.
“The residents of Queens and Long Island have honored me with their trust and support for the past 34 years, first as a New York State Senator, and for the past 15 terms as a member of Congress,” said Ackerman. “I’ve been truly privileged to have had the opportunity to fight for the beliefs of my neighbors in both the State Capital and in the halls of Congress. During my years in Congress, it has been my pleasure to address the needs of thousands of individual constituents and to influence domestic and global policy while serving on the Financial and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House. I am most thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country and my community.”
The congressmember went on to say he expects to continue to be aggressively and passionately involved with local and global issues related to his district. He most recently made headlines for arranging the release of Queens-native Ilan Grapel, who spent months in an Egyptian jail following allegations he was an Israeli spy.
Upon learning of his decision, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Ackerman as a fearless global ambassador.
“When Gary Ackerman and I visited Israel at the start of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, rocket alarms went off as we visited the police station in Sderot. As everyone scrambled into the bomb shelter, Gary was cool and collected, which is exactly how he went about business in Congress for more than three decades,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “The borough of Queens – and the people of Israel, Africa and so many other areas of the world – have rarely had a stronger ally in Congress, and our entire nation will miss Gary’s encyclopedic knowledge of foreign policy and so many other issues.”
Ackerman, who was first elected to public office in 1978 when he won a seat in the New York State Senate, is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the ranking member of its Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He is also a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Born in Brooklyn, Ackerman was raised in Flushing and is a graduate of Queens College.