Two of Brooklyn’s leading ladies are bowing out.
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D–Flatbush) and Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Brooklyn Heights) announced on May 18 and May 19, respectively, that they will not seek re-election this fall.
Jacobs said she will retire from public service at end of her term this year, after more than three and a half decades representing her Ditmas Park-to-Midwood turf.
“It has been an honor to represent the diverse and hard-working people of the 42nd Assembly District over the past 36 years,” Jacobs said on May 2. “After much thought and consideration, I have decided to retire from the New York State Assembly.”
Jacobs, who turns 77 this year, first became a state representative in 1978, when Ed Koch was mayor and Jimmy Carter was in the Oval Office. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan) recognized her long service in 2003, when he appointed her assistant speaker.
She impressed observers with her ability to hold onto elected office even as the demographics of her district changed dramatically over the decades. Jacobs, who is Jewish, crushed Haitian-born activist Rodneyse Bichotte by more than 2,000 votes in a closely watched 2012 race — even though the district is now more than 60 percent black.
This paper first broke rumors of Jacob’s retirement in March, which reportedly inspired Bichotte to take another stab at replacing the long-serving pol this year. Bichotte praised Jacobs in a statement shortly after the announcement on Sunday.
“I called Rhoda earlier today to congratulate her on 36 years of service and I look forward to her continuous contributions in our community. I wish her the very best,” said Bichotte, who currently serves as the area’s district leader, an unpaid position representing the Assembly district inside the Democratic Party.
Jacobs’s retirement sets up a tense contest for her seat in the Democratic primary in September. Bichotte has already garnered the endorsements of leading Brooklyn politicians including Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–East Flatbush) and Public Advocate Tish James. Jacobs aide L. Rickie Tulloch announced his own bid for the seat in April, and has been campaigning claiming he has the incumbent’s backing to be her successor.
A spokesman for Jacobs said he could not comment on whether the assemblywoman would endorse Tulloch.
The 74-year-old Millman, who took office in 1997, said that she would leave her post representing Dumbo through Park Slope in order to take a job at the city Department for the Aging.
“It has been my great pleasure to represent our communities in the state Assembly for the past 17 years,” said Assemblywoman Millman. “I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of seniors.”
Longtime Brooklyn Heights district leader and Millman ally Jo Anne Simon has said she will be running for the Brooklyn Heights seat in November.