One of the longest-serving lawmakers in New York state history, Manhattan Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, announced his impending retirement Monday.
The long-time liberal lion, who said he was inspired to pursue a life of public service as a 13-year-old growing up during the Kennedy presidency, has been in the Assembly since 1970. He currently represents the 75th Assembly District in Manhattan, which includes Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the Flatiron and NoMad Districts, Union Square, Midtown, and part of the Lincoln Square area on the Upper West Side.
But after a distinguished career spanning more than five decades, Gottfried has decided to call it a career.
When his current term expires on Dec. 31, 2022, Gottfried will have served 53 years in the State Assembly. His tenure will have seen ten different presidents, nine different New York state governors and eight different mayors (once Eric Adams is sworn in on New Year’s Day).
“I am grateful to my talented staff (present and past), hundreds of dedicated colleagues in the Legislature, nine governors (each with a distinct personality), and countless advocates and experts,” Gottfried said in a statement. “Their commitment to solving problems is why we have been able to accomplish so much for the people of New York. Most of all, I thank my amazingly supportive and loving family. It hasn’t been easy – particularly during the endless days and nights of budget and end-of-session. None of this would have been possible without them.”
During the course of his career, Gottfried sponsored more than 500 laws, many of which proved transformative.
After first introducing the same-sex marriage equality bill in 2003, he helped finally steer the legislation to passage eight years later. Gottfried also was front and center in the marijuana decriminalization movement; helped establish Child Health Plus, the state’s health care program for children; secured expansion of Medicaid; supported campaign finance reform; and protected the rights of crime victims.
Gottfried has also served as chair of the Assembly Health Committee for a staggering 34 years, after being first appointed to the role back in 1987.
He may be retiring soon, but Gottfried told constituents that he’s not slowing down.
“I will continue to fight for the district and my constituents and for New York State until my term ends at the end of 2022,” he said. “That includes helping New York recover from the public health emergency, fighting for justice, reproductive choice, human rights, and enacting the New York Health Act.”