Over the last few weeks, three Senators and one Assemblymember announced they will not be seeking re-election. The first to announce their retirement from the Legislature was longtime Democratic Assembly Member Catherine Nolan. Assembly Member Nolan, who has spent 38 years in the Assembly, battled cancer for a year and said now that it is stable it’s time for her to focus on taking care of her health. During her time in the Legislature, Assembly Member Nolan, who helped pave the way for women in the State Legislature, has chaired the Labor and Education Committees, where she led efforts to achieve raising the minimum wage, enhancing whistleblower protections for healthcare workers, reducing school class size, and advancing universal pre-k, and in 2018, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appointed her Deputy Speaker. “She was a good legislator, a great debater and somebody that will be sorely missed – no doubt,” said former Assemblyman Joe Lentol, adding that Nolan is “one of the towering women of the Legislature ever to serve in our State.”
The second retirement announcement came from Democratic Senator Diane Savino, who has served in the Senate for 18-years and is a former member of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). The Senator believes now is the time for her to step aside, saying, “You know what, I’m not the only person who can do this work, and I think it’s important for me to recognize that it is time for me to step off this stage and onto another one.” Savino has previously chaired the Banks, Labor, Children & Families, and Civil Service & Pensions Committees, and currently is the Chair of the Internet & Technology Committee. During her time, she has pushed for the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, the Compassionate Care Act, and a number of labor issues.
On the same day Senator Savino announced she will retire from the Legislature Democratic Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District also announced she will not be seeking re-election. Rice, who has represented the 4th District for seven years has been a leading voice on national security issues and has fiercely advocated for veterans, even authoring legislation, which was signed into law in January, that will expand employment opportunities for veterans. Since her announcement, no candidates have announced they will run to succeed her.
The next to announce he will not be seeking re-election was Democratic Senator Todd Kaminsky, who said he will be leaving public service all together after 18 years. “After much thought and consideration, I have decided that I will not run for re-election, or for any office, this fall,” Kaminsky said. “It has been an honor to represent the communities of the South Shore of Long Island for the past seven years, but I believe that it is the best thing for my family to pursue a new path.” Senator Kaminsky, who currently chairs the Environmental Conservation Committee, has spent his time in the Senate advocating for the protection of New York’s air, water and natural resources by authoring the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), fighting to regulate carcinogenic contaminants in Long Island’s water supply, securing a multi-billion-dollar investment in clean water infrastructure, and more.
The final retirement announcement came from Republican Senator Patty Ritchie, who said, “this is a decision I did not arrive at lightly. However, it is the right one for my family and I. Next month will mark 36 years of public service for me and, while words cannot express how much I will miss the work I do, I look forward to being able to spend more time with my family.” Ritchie, who was elected to the State Senate in 2010, has previously served as the Chair of the Agriculture Committee, and has spent her time advocating for issues related to health care, children, families, growing Upstate New York’s rural economy, and protecting farmers.
Lastly, on February 9th, while speaking on a bill during Session, Republican Assembly Member Melissa Miller announced her resignation, which became effective February 14th. Assembly Member Miller said she will be filling an opening on Hempstead’s Town Council. The Assembly Member’s new position will allow her stay home to care for her son, Oliver, who has refractory epilepsy and is confined to a wheelchair. “I have a sick child, and his health has deteriorated during COVID,” Assembly Member Miller said that it became too difficult to bring him to Albany on a regular-basis, as she used to, when “he got too sick.” The Assembly member added “And this opportunity came up for the town council seat that was vacated, and that’s a great opportunity for me to still be able to do what I’m doing albeit on a local level [and] still help the people that need help.” So far, no candidates have announced a run for the newly vacated seat, and the Governor has not yet announced a special election for the seat.