Feb. 11, 2022 By Christian Murray
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is expected to step down from office at the end of this year—leaving the race to represent the 37th Assembly District wide open.
Nolan, 63, who has represented the district since 1985, is not expected to seek reelection, according to several sources close to the Queens Post. She is battling peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare asbestos-related cancer.
Newsday also confirmed Friday that she is not running, saying that she is stepping down to take care of her health.
With Nolan not running, the race for the newly redistricted assembly seat is wide open. Two candidates who announced last year that they planned to run—Huge “Vax Daddy” Ma and Mary Jobaida—have since said they are no longer running. Therefore no one is currently in the race.
However, this is expected to change—and fast.
Danielle Brecker, who ran against Nolan in 2020 and is not seeking office this year, expects the race to be a scramble—since prospective candidates will have to act fast.
For instance, candidates who choose to run need to start collecting signatures starting March 1 in order to get on the June ballot. Additionally, they will have to start fundraising— there will be no matching funds program for this election cycle.
“I have a feeling that there will still be a lot of candidates [despite the rush],” Brecker said. “This district overlaps much of the 26th District council district…and many candidates ran in that race, and I expect some of them will decide to run.”
However, some of these potential candidates may choose to run for the newly created state senate seat—District 17– that includes most of Long Island City (south of the Queensboro Bridge), Brecker said.
This new senate seat also covers portions of Sunnyside, Maspeth, Glendale, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. So far, DSA organizer and Long Island City tech worker Kristen Gonzalez is the only candidate who has announced that they are running in that race.
The person, however, who takes over from Nolan in District 37 will be taking the reins from a trailblazer for women in politics.
Nolan, a Ridgewood resident, was one of the youngest women ever elected in New York when she won the Assembly seat in 1984. She sought to be the first female Assembly speaker following the departure of Sheldon Silver—a position Carl Heastie won.
Nolan was the long-time chair of the assembly education committee and of the Labor and Banking committee.
“Assemblymember Catherine Nolan set the example & blazed the trail for me + many other women to engage + lead in our communities & run for office,” Brecker tweeted.
“I would not have been able to challenge AM Nolan in 2020 if she had not been doing the work before me. I thank her for her service.”
The current Assembly District 37 Map (left) vs. the new map. Significant portions of Astoria and Long Island City have been cut out of the revised district. (Source: RedistrictingandYou.org)The geography of the 37th Assembly District that Nolan currently represents has changed due to redistricting.
The district, which currently snakes from Ridgewood up to NYCHA Astoria Houses, will become more compact. It will no longer go into Astoria and will now exclude Dutch Kills, Queens Plaza and much of Court Square in Long Island City.
Huge Ma, who lives in the Dutch Kills/Astoria area, said he exited the race since he doesn’t live in the revised 37th Assembly District.
Jobaida still lives in the newly drafted 37th district. However, she told the Queens Post today that she is not running, noting that she is focusing on aiding her daughter who has health issues.
“The new district boundary could have favored my race too,” Jobaida stated. “But I have a long way to go with my second daughter’s recovery. She is under therapy now. I won’t be able to disregard her health during a difficult time.”
While no one has publicly announced that they are running yet, progressives believe Émilia Decaudin, a Sunnyside resident and democratic district leader, will run.
Decaudin, who would be the first openly transgender person to be elected to Albany, said Friday that “I’m strongly considering it and I will be making an announcement soon.”
Interested candidates will have no choice but to come forward soon. They will have until April 7 to gather the requisite number of signatures to get on the ballot for the June 28 race.
Thank you, Cathy Nolan. You served our district extremely well. We were lucky to have such an outstanding assemblymember all these years. Wishing you good health and all the best in your upcoming retirement.
Assemblywoman Nolan has served her district and her constituents well. My mother knew Assemblywoman Nolan well and has personally worked side by side with Mrs. Nolan at her Sunnyside office for years. Mrs. Nolan was even instrumental in securing employment for me with a real estate company in the nineties. I sincerely wish her well in her retirement.