Mayersohn to retire this week

Nettie Mayersohn
By Howard Koplowitz

State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) announced her retirement Wednesday, effective almost immediately.

“After much deliberation, I believe the time has come for me to step aside,” she said in a statement, adding her retirement would be effective Thursday, the last day of March.

Mayersohn, 86, who served in the Assembly for 28 years, decided to retire to be closer to family and has no health problems, a spokesman said.

“She’s as healthy as a horse,” said Mayersohn spokesman Scott Wolf. “She just feels she’s accomplished everything she needed to accomplished in the Assembly.”

Most likely, a special election will determine who will succeed Mayersohn in the Assembly.

Michael Simanowitz, Mayersohn’s chief of staff, said he has the assemblywoman’s support to run.

“If and when there’s a special election, I will be running. Nettie is wholeheartedly behind me,” he said. “I look forward to the opportunity to run and represent the people of the 27th [Assembly District] and continue the work that Nettie’s done over the years.”

A GOP source said Andrew Rocco, a moderate Democrat and United Federation of Teachers organizer, could get the Republican line in the special election.

The source said John Mulvey, a staffer for City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and College Point resident, is a “longer shot” for the Republican line.

Mayersohn is known for authoring the Baby AIDS law in 1996 that requires doctors to tell mothers if their babies were infected with HIV.

Before the law, parents were not told of their child’s condition because it was considered a violation of the mother’s right not to know, Mayersohn said.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), whose district overlaps with Mayersohn’s, said the assemblywoman “has impacted the lives of all New Yorkers as profoundly as few legislators have.”

“Her indefatigability, her outspokenness and her love of her constituents set a high standard,” Stavisky said. “I am proud of our friendship and, while I will miss her in Albany, I know she will continue to be an influential leader, someone to whom everyone turns for advice.”

Mayersohn also authored the Partner Notification Law in 1998 that requires doctors to notify the state Health Department when one of the patients tests positive for HIV.

The law enabled the department to interview the HIV-positive individual and either assist them in notifying their sexual partners themselves or may confidentially reach out to those known partners and tell them that there is a reason to believe they have been exposed to the virus, which allows the partners to begin accessing care.

Mayersohn thanked her constituents in her statement.

“They gave me the privilege of representing their interests for 28 years,” she said. “I never took their support for granted and worked very hard to ensure their continued trust. All I can say is thank you — I will never forget you.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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