BY JON CRONIN
Last Friday, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) announced that he would not seek re-election when his term is up at the end of the calendar year.
Goldfeder told the Queens Tribune that he has spent the last five years on issues both large and small. “First and foremost was the immediate aftermath of [Hurricane] Sandy,” he said. “We began recovery and it’s still on-going.”
“It dictated a lot of what we worked on,” he noted.
Goldfeder was lauded for his hands on work in the field in the days after Sandy. His headquarters were destroyed in Rockaway Park and he either worked out of his car or in the hospitality of Assemblyman Mike Miller’s (D-Woodhaven) office.
He remembered in those first few days, everything was emotional. Goldfeder went with local unions to bring milk to families in the Rockaways. “They had been without milk for a week,” he said, “Mothers were literally crying. The emotion they felt and our ability to deliver. It was over the kind of thing we take for granted. It was very meaningful.”
Goldfeder is proud of the tremendous strides he’s made in bringing healthcare back to South Queens, but there are no issues too small, he said. Whether it was advocating for YouTube to take down videos pertaining to the ‘Fire Challenge,’ which encouraged adolescents to douse themselves with ignitable fluid and then light themselves ablaze before quickly dousing it, getting AC in over heated schools, hosting a rain barrel give away and every issue in between.
“Transportation is always a concern,” he said, noting that he re-established the rebate on Cross Bay Bridge for locals and highlighted what may be his signature effort, which is to re-activate the Rockaway Rail Line from the Rockaways to Elmhurst.
“We were just a tag line, now there’s actually a study being done,” he said of the MTA’s recently announced feasibility study that will conclude in June 2017.
Goldfeder said he is excited about the next few months and “working with the candidates that want to continue our passion.”
He conceded, “This is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my entire life. In many ways we’ve made progress. This is bittersweet, but I’m excited about new opportunities and spending more time with my family. “
Moments before the interview, he said his wife called him in Albany to tell him that their newborn son had slept through the night for the first time. “I’m happy for my wife. God bless my wife, spending time at home.
There’s a lot of things I’m missing that I want to be a part of,” he said.
He hopes to leave improvements that are not “short term band aid fixes.” He said what he does is not to ensure his well- being, but for his children. He cites projects like fortification of Jamaica Bay and rebuilding beaches. “They’re there for the next 100 years so they get to enjoy the same communities I got to enjoy.”
Goldfeder stated that he would soon be announcing his endorsement of a candidate that would carry his passion.
Stacey Pheffer-Amato, a life-long Rockaway resident and daughter of former Assemblywoman and current Queens County Clerk Audrey I. Pfeffer, announced her candidacy for the position on Tuesday.
Pheffer-Amato has spent the last four years as a Democratic district leader. She announced that she plans to carry Goldfeder’s fight to expedite Sandy recovery and the reactivation of the Rockaway Rail Line.
“As a wife and mother, I know the challenges facing our families as we continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy and fight for the services we need. I intend to be a powerful advocate for southern Queens and Rockaway and I look forward to counting on your support in November,” said Pffefer- Amato.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin