Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 16 March 2012 10:29
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) will not seek re-election to the United States Congress next year. The announcement came late on Thursday, March 15, following the federal circuit court’s approval of Congressional district lines, a decision that Ackerman’s office called “extraordinarily favorable” to the congressman who is serving his fifteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Announcing his decision not to run for a sixteenth term of office, Ackerman added that, if he had chosen to run again, he would have run “with the primary-free backing of the Democratic Party virtually assured.”
Ackerman currently represents the Fifth Congressional District of New York, which encompasses parts of the New York City Borough of Queens and the North Shore of Long Island, including west and northeast Queens and northern Nassau County.“The residents of Queens and Long Island have honored me with their trust and support for the past 34 years, first as a New York state senator, and for the past 15 terms as a member of Congress,” said Ackekerman. “I’ve been truly privileged to have had the opportunity to fight for the beliefs of my neighbors in both the State Capital and in the halls of Congress.”
The congressman noted the personal satisfaction he has felt over his years in office: “During my years in Congress, it has been my pleasure to address the needs of thousands of individual constituents and to influence domestic and global policy while serving on the Financial and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House. I am most thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country and my community.”
For many years a Jamaica Estates resident, Gary Ackerman and his wife, Rita, currently live in Roslyn Heights. Following his initial career as a teacher in the New York City public schools, Ackerman next founded a weekly community newspaper, The Flushing Tribune, which soon became The Queens Tribune. He served as its editor and publisher.
Ackerman was first elected to public office in 1978, as a New York State senator. He was then elected to Congress in 1983 in a special election. Ackerman then represented the central Queens area until 1992, when reapportionment reconfigured his district to the North Shore of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties. The redistricting in 2002 slightly redrew the boundaries again to its present configuration, which includes Queens and Nassau.
Congressman Ackerman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress, sat on two major committees, House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs. As well he chaired the Asia and the Pacific subcommittee.
Among some of the highlights of the congressman’s long career, he lists: passage of his Baby AIDS legislation that requires mandatory HIV testing of newborns; the “Heroes” postage stamp with revenues going toward families of rescue workers killed or permanently disabled while responding to 9/11 and his work toward greater SEC accountability following the Madoff Ponzi scheme. In the wake of the Madoff scandal, with many victims living in his district, the congressman worked in several ways to help those victims.
On a more global front, Ackerman said he is proud that he “made history” when as chairman of the Asia Subcommittee, he traveled to North Korea to discuss with dictator Kim Il Sung the framework under which the communist nation would agree to stop building nuclear weapons. Upon his return to South Korea, Ackerman became the first person since the Korean War to cross the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).
Ackerman promises that, once he retires, he will “remain extremely passionate” about the causes related to his Congressional activities” and expects that he will “continue to be aggressively involved in many local and global issues” as he moves into his new role as a private citizen.
Ackerman’s term of office in the United States Congress will end on January 2, 2013.