New York State Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) announced Monday that he is not seeking re-election, leaving newcomers to race this fall for the seat that he has held for 25 years.
The outgoing 80-year-old lawmaker is widely known as an advocate for children with special needs, having passed Jonathan’s Law, which notifies families when reports of abuse are made at a mental hygiene facility where their children are receiving care, and legislation that expanded insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders. He also helped open Angela’s House, Long Island’s first residential facility for medically fragile children.
“I have much to accomplish between now and the end of my term,” Weisenberg said in a statement, vowing to add to the 300 bills he’s helped author and pass. “I will greatly miss my colleagues in Albany.”
Weisenberg represents Assembly District 20, which includes Long Beach Island from Point Lookout to Atlantic Beach, as well as the Five Towns area of southwestern Nassau County, plus Oceanside and Island Park.
Democrats have a nearly 20 percent edge in voter enrollment over Republicans—39,529 to 31,748—in the district, although there are more than 20,000 unaffiliated voters and over 4,000 minor-party members in the area.
Unlike many of his colleagues in the state’s lower legislative chamber, Weisenberg regularly made headlines, although not always for his proposals. He recently made news when he alleged in a federal lawsuit that an AHRC Nassau worker abused his son, a group home resident with cerebral palsy. The suit was reported settled last fall for $120,000.
Before he won a February 1989 special election for the Assembly in February 1989, Weisenberg had been a Long Beach city councilman, police officer, teacher, school administrator and lifeguard.
He was named in 2003 as assistant speaker pro tempore, meaning he serves as a substitute for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).
Weisenberg will retire when his 12th term ends on his 81st birthday on New Year’s Eve.