ENG: Gary Leonard Ackerman (born November 19, 1942) was a U.S. Representative from New York, serving from 1983 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. On March 15, 2012, Ackerman announced that he would retire at the end of the 112th Congress on January 3, 2013 after fifteen terms, and would not seek re-election in November 2012.
Early life, education, and early career
Ackerman was born in Brooklyn, the son of Eva (née Barnett) and Max Ackerman. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland. He was raised in Flushing, Queens.
He attended local public schools, Brooklyn Technical High School and graduated from Queens College in 1965. After college, Ackerman became a New York City School teacher where he taught social studies, mathematics, and journalism to junior high school students in Queens.
Following the birth of his first child in 1969, Ackerman petitioned the New York City Board of Education for an unpaid leave of absence to spend time with his newborn daughter. But his request was denied under then existing policy which reserved unpaid "maternity-child care" leave to women only.
In what was to be a forerunner of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, then teacher Ackerman successfully sued the Board in a landmark case which established the right of either parent to receive unpaid leave for child care. A quarter of a century later, now a Congressman, Ackerman in the House-Senate Conference Committee, signed the report of the Family and Medical Leave Act which became the law of the land.
Ackerman's second career move occurred in 1970, when he left teaching to start a weekly community newspaper in Queens called The Flushing Tribune which soon became the Queens Tribune. Ackerman served as its editor and publisher.
New York Senate
Ackerman was first elected to public office — the New York Senate — in 1978.
State Senator Ackerman was then elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1983 in a special election. Ackerman represented the central Queens area until 1992, when reapportionment reconfigured his district to the north shore of Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. Then redistricting in 2002 slightly redrew the boundaries again to its present configuration of communities in Queens and Nassau County.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
Incumbent Democrat U.S. Congressman Benjamin Rosenthal died on January 4, 1983.
Ackerman won the special election with a plurality of 49%. In 1984, he won re-election to a full term with 69% of the vote. In 1986, he won re-election with 77%, and was unopposed in 1988 and 1990. After redistricting, he ran in New York's 5th congressional district. He won the Democratic primary with 60%, and the general election with 52% against Republican county legislator Allan E. Binder. In 1994, he won re-election with 55% of the vote. Since then, he has won re-election with at least 63% of the vote.
Gary Ackerman was the Congressional delegate to the United Nations. In addition, he is the ranking Democrat on the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. In 2002, he was awarded India's third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan for his contributions as member of the India Caucus in the Congress.
Ackerman was one of only 22 Congressman and one of 2 Democrats from New York to vote against a resolution calling for the protection of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.
The resolution, which did not include language that would protect the symbols of other religious holidays, passed 401-22 in the House in December 2005. In April 2003 the Catholic League for religious and civil rights attacked Ackerman for voting against a non-binding resolution that would have declared a day of prayer in recognition of the U.S. war in Iraq.
Ackerman received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues. Ackerman is also a member of the Cuba Democracy Caucus and is currently the head of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP).
Ackerman has missed voting on 80 occasions pertaining to a variety of issues, including the Pension Protection Act, the Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act, and the Honoring the Contributions of Catholic Schools.
In June, 2001, Ackerman honored King Christian X of Denmark for his wearing a yellow badge armband during World War II in support of the Danish Jews who had been ordered by the Nazi occupation to wear yellow badges, although Jews in Denmark were never forced to wear an armband, and the story is merely a legend.
Ackerman, who sports a white carnation boutonnière each day, lives on a houseboat named the Unsinkable II while in Washington, D.C. and otherwise resides in Roslyn Heights in Nassau County with his wife Rita, having moved there from a home in Jamaica Estates, Queens that sold for US$1 million in 2008. The Ackermans have three children: Lauren, Corey, and Ari. Representative Ackerman is an amateur photographer, an avid stamp collector and a boating enthusiast. Ackerman is an Eagle Scout.
At the 2006 meeting of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), Ackerman was unanimously elected to serve as the executive of the organization.
Ackerman was named an honorary graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy for his continued support of the service academy located in Kings Point, New York.
January 16, 2013