UPDATED June 6, 5:21 p.m.
After five years in Albany, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder says its time to focus on family, not politics.
The lawmaker announced on June 2 that he would not seek re-election this November to the 23rd Assembly District seat, which represents Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and much of the Rockaways.
“It was by far the hardest decision I ever had to make, and I caught a lot of people by surprise,” Goldfeder told QNS in a phone interview on Monday, June 6. “This is something I had been thinking about for a few months, but the birth of my son just over a month ago brought it all home, and made me realize that I owe it to my family to be home. After five years of service to the community, now was the right time.”
His wife, Esther, gave birth to their third child just two months ago. All three children are under 10, according to Jon Greenfield, a spokesperson for Goldfeder.
Even so, Goldfeder told QNS that he “won’t rule anything out” regarding his future in politics. For the immediate future, he’s “exploring a few options” and “fully intend[s] to stay involved in the community on every level possible.”
“I would not rule out anything in the future,” he said. “If the right campaign came along at the right time, it would definitely be something I’d consider.”
For state lawmakers from Queens, serving in the State Capitol means being away from home and family four days a week for roughly the first six months of every calendar year. The extensive time away from home was the major factor in Goldfeder’s decision not to run for re-election.
“With the birth of his son, it kind of put things in perspective for him,” Greenfield told QNS on Friday.
Goldfeder, who previously served as a political aide to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Charles Schumer, won a special election in 2011 to succeed former Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who stepped down to become Queens County clerk. One year later, as his district was slammed by Hurricane Sandy, Goldfeder advocated hard for programs and funding to expedite the rebuilding process throughout the region.
In the years since, he also campaigned for public transportation improvements in south Queens, calling for the reactivation of the defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Goldfeder also pushed for an end to illegal parking on residential streets near John F. Kennedy Airport, reduced noise from aircraft over the area and repairs at Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach.
“In five years, we made tremendous accomplishments,” Goldfeder told QNS. He added that Hurricane Sandy provided him with “some of my worst and proudest moments” in the days following the superstorm.
“For a long time, it didn’t matter where you were from or what you did for a living. You were there to help your neighbors, help your community and help your city, and collectively recover from a devastating storm,” he added. “I’m really proud to have been part of that in every way.”
Goldfeder’s term expires at the end of the year, and he intends “to use this time to continue my work and fight for the issues that matter most,” he told constituents in the June 3 newsletter.
Voters will decide later this year who will replace Goldfeder as the 23rd Assembly District representative. Primaries for the seat will be held in September in advance of the Nov. 8 general election. There was no word as of yet regarding possible contenders.