Democratic State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer announced her intentions to retire at the end of this term this morning, setting up an open contest as to who will succeed here. The Westchester County Senator’s statement says that she had previously thought that she would run for reelection this November, but a recent surgery has interfered with the plans.
“When considering my responsibilities as Senator, the extensive effort that will go into rehabilitation and physical therapy following my surgery, and the added work of the hard fought campaigns I always wage, it became clear to me that I could do only two of those three important tasks.”
Senator Oppenheimer barely won reelection in 2010 and her Republican opponent only conceded a month after the election once the exact vote tally was finally ascertained. President Barack Obama won a strong 65% in the district in 2008, so Democrats may be in a stronger position now with the open seat.
State of Politics reports that Ms. Oppenheimer’s 2010 opponent, Bob Cohen, is running again for the seat.
Read the full statement below:
State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) announced today that she will not seek re-election this November. The Senator made her decision upon recently learning that she will have to undergo major shoulder replacement surgery in 2012.
“It had always been my plan to seek re-election in November and continue to serve the people of this district. When considering my responsibilities as Senator, the extensive effort that will go into rehabilitation and physical therapy following my surgery, and the added work of the hard fought campaigns I always wage, it became clear to me that I could do only two of those three important tasks.
I want to thank the people of my district for the honor and privilege of representing them. Wherever I go throughout Westchester County, I am buoyed by the well wishes and support of longtime friends and residents. I have enormous faith in the people of New York. If they are ever tough on their elected officials, it is only because they believe – as I do – that we, as a state, can and will be better.
I intend to make 2012 another productive year where I can tackle tough issues, move legislation and have an impact in areas where I have particular expertise. I am most excited about being part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to bring much needed change to Albany by reforming, reorganizing and making state government effective again.
By the end of this term, I will have served 28 years in the New York State Senate, following eight years as Mayor of Mamaroneck. The Senate is an institution that I hold very dear to my heart, and I count many of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – among my closest friends.”
Senator Oppenheimer has always taken a bipartisan approach as an elected official. “I continue to believe that government at every level succeeds when we work together without regard to party to find solutions through discussion and compromise,” said the Senator.
She has been an outspoken leader in the Senate on a variety of concerns, including education, environmental protection, and issues affecting women and children. As a former League of Women Voters’ President, Senator Oppenheimer has long advocated for governmental reforms, including public financing of campaigns, open government at all levels and reform of the state budget process.
During her years in the Senate, Oppenheimer sponsored or co-sponsored over 300 laws, addressing such areas as education reform, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Fund, domestic violence, the open meetings law, and the needs of local governments and not-for-profits.
In 2011, Senator Oppenheimer sponsored more bills passing both houses than any other Democratic Senator. She sponsored important legislation involving Westchester, including the landmark law allowing Purchase College to develop a senior community housing facility integrated onto the campus. She also passed government reorganization legislation allowing the village and town of Ossining to merge their courts and thereby lower costs to taxpayers.
The Senator’s announcement acknowledged many individuals who have helped her throughout her long and distinguished career:
“I would like to thank my superb staff in the district and in Albany. They are public servants in the truest sense of the word and without their dedication and tireless work ethic, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I did. Through the years, we have helped thousands of constituents with their personal issues, and we will continue to do so throughout the coming year.
I would also like to thank my husband Martin and my wonderful children, Marcy, Evan, Josh, and Ali. I could not have done my job all these many years without their unwavering support and encouragement.
Most important, it is the trust, partnership and support of Westchester residents over the past 28 years that have made service in the Senate so tremendously rewarding. When individuals or organizations bring a problem to my attention, they open the door for us to work together to solve it. This is the gift that democracy brings forth, and it has been an honor to advance the issues and needs of families in Westchester on a statewide basis.
While I will be out of elective office in 2013 for the first time in 36 years, I expect to continue my involvement and pursue new opportunities to serve our community and our state.”
A date for surgery has not been scheduled, but is expected to take place early in the 2012 Legislative Session.