After 25 years in office, State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat from Long Beach known for bridging party divisions in Albany, announced Monday that he is not seeking re-election in the 20th Assembly District this year.
Weisenberg, 80, a lifelong Long Beach resident who was re-elected to a two-year term in 2012 — just days after Hurricane Sandy — said he would retire when his term ends in December. He was first elected in a special election in 1989. The district encompasses the Long Beach barrier island, Island Park, Oceanside, the Five Towns and parts of East Rockaway and Valley Stream.
“It’s time,” Weisenberg said. “Now I can just be with the person I love the most in the world, my wife, Ellen, and my children. I’ve accomplished most of everything that I want, but I still have things I want to fight for.”
During his career, Weisenberg helped to pass more than 300 bills, including legislation assisting people with special needs and creating tougher DWI laws — an example is Leandra’s Law, which requires those who are convicted of drunken driving to use ignition interlocks in their vehicles — as well as reducing speed limits to under 30 mph in parts of Long Beach and Lido Beach. He also introduced a bill that was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011 that prohibits driving while texting.
Weisenberg’s son, Ricky, 55, has cerebral palsy and cannot speak, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said that Weisenberg will be remembered as one of the state’s leading advocates for the families of those with special needs — and that he will be sorely missed.
“His determined advocacy on their behalf knew no bounds, and had no equal in the halls of the Capitol,” Skelos said in a statement, referring to families of people with special needs. “Harvey’s ‘retirement’ will leave a void, but I know his colleagues who remain will be eager to take up his fight in the months and years ahead. As a fellow Long Islander, I take comfort in knowing that Harvey will continue to have an active role in the community he loves. It has been an honor to work with him as a colleague and to count him as a friend.”
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