QUEENS — State Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, praised by his colleagues as a "dedicated public servant," died Saturday, elected officials said. He was 45.
Simanowitz, who was first elected to represent the 27th District in Queens in 2011, struggled for several years with cancer, according to published reports.
The Democratic assemblyman, who grew up in Forest Hills, represented a section of Queens which included a portion of his old neighborhood, in addition to Kew Gardens, Briarwood, Pomonok, Kew Gardens Hills, Flushing and College Point.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced his death on Saturday. “I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and colleague, Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz,” he wrote in a statement.
Simanowitz “served his community and the state of New York with dedication and passion,” Heastie added.
He began his career as chief of staff to former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn more than two decades ago and later replaced her following a special election after she resigned to reportedly spend more time with her family.
Before entering politics, Simanowitz volunteered with the NYPD's auxiliary police program at the 107th Precinct in Flushing for 15 years, elected officials said.
The Yeshiva World called Simanowitz, an Orthodox Jew, a “tremendous voice for the Jewish community.”
“His passing is a terrible loss for our community and for the State of New York.”
Colleagues, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, remembered him as "a great public servant ... who cared deeply about the people of Queens."
"As an Assembly member and prior to that a staffer, he was widely respected by his peers and his partners in government," Cuomo added.
Simanowitz is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and four children. His funeral services took place Sunday at Schwartz Brothers Jeffer Memorial Chapel in Forest Hills.
"Mike was a wonderful human being," said Rep. Grace Meng, whose congressional district encompasses most of Simanowitz's Assembly district.
"He had a heart of gold and was among the warmest, friendliest and most down-to-earth individuals I have known," she noted.