On August 13, former assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn passed away at the age of 96. She was elected in 1982 to represent the 27th District, which runs from Flushing through Kew Gardens Hills and Kew Gardens to the northern edge of Richmond Hill.
Mayersohn is perhaps best known for her work in passing the Baby AIDS Bill, which required that all newborn babies be tested for HIV, but more importantly it mandated that mothers and doctors be told the results.
Prior to the bill, anywhere between 1,500 and 1,800 babies tested positive for HIV every year, but the results were only used for statistical purposes. Consequently, many infants with HIV were sent home and never received the treatment they needed.
At the time the bill received opposition from some gay activist groups, who were concerned about privacy issues, but it eventually was signed into law.
Mayersohn moved to Queens in 1954 with her husband Ronald, who passed away in 2005. They settled in the Electchester Co-ops near Queens College, where she lived for the rest of her life. It was there that she played an instrumental role in establishing the Pomonok Community Center, which offers after-school and crime prevention programs, as well as tenant assistance.
She served on Community Board 8 and as executive director of the New York State Crime Victims Board. She authored a bill in the state legislature that would allow victims of crime to appear at parole hearings to deliver impact statements.
Mayersohn left the Assembly voluntarily in 2011. She was succeeded by Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, who passed away while in office. Daniel Rosenthal now holds the seat.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik served in the Assembly for two years with Mayersohn from 2002 to 2004.
“It is with profound sorrow that I received the news of the passing of my dear friend, hero, and mentor, former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn,” he said in a statement. “Words cannot possibly convey my sense of loss and what her life meant and means to the people of the community in which I was raised and for New Yorkers everywhere. She was a rock of integrity and caring and a legislator of the first magnitude.”