Jeff Aubry announces retirement, endorses Larinda Hooks

The longtime Queens lawmaker became a leading criminal justice reform advocate and the voice of the Assembly.

Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry announced he won’t seek reelection.

Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry announced he won’t seek reelection. New York state Assembly

After months of speculation, longtime Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry of Queens announced that he will retire at the end of his term, endorsing District Leader Larinda Hooks to replace him in the 35th District. 

First elected in a 1992 special election, Aubry is also the longtime speaker pro tempore of the Assembly. Since 2013, he has presided over session proceedings and his voice has become well-known to anyone who has spent time listening in the chamber or on a livestream. His tenor timbre and calm cadence while presiding over debates and votes has become somewhat iconic among Assembly members and Assembly observers.

Aubry has long championed criminal justice reforms, most recently carrying bills like the HALT Solitary Confinement Act and the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act, which just passed earlier this year and awaits action from the governor. “In the beginning, quite frankly, it was really just me,” Aubry told City & State in 2018 of his yearslong campaign to repeal the state’s punitive Rockefeller drug laws. Many of his contemporaries from that time are no longer in office, but many other criminal justice reform-minded lawmakers have taken up the torch in recent years. In a 2021 tweet, then-Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez called Aubry the “Godfather of criminal justice.”

Aubry has not made public comments about his long-rumored retirement aside from endorsing Hooks to replace him. “I’ve worked closely with her to deliver for our communities and I can promise you that she is the most honest, experienced, and qualified candidate in this race,” Aubry said in a press release announcing Hooks’ campaign. “She is the only Democrat I trust to fight for our values, unite our diverse communities, and deliver for working families.” That same press release said that 35th Assembly District would soon be open when Aubry “retires at the end of this term.” Aubry also was not immediately available for an interview on Tuesday.

Hooks’ campaign announcement indicated that she expects former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate to run for the seat as well. Monserrate, whom the press release described as a “perennial candidate and former-Republican ally,” has attempted to unseat Aubry in Democratic primaries in 2020 and 2022. “The divisive rhetoric from those who seek to divide us must not triumph,” Hooks said in a statement announcing her campaign. “We deserve better. That’s why I’m running for Assembly and I’m excited to share my vision and values with local residents in the coming months.”

Monserrate was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 after being convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend, and he later pleaded guilty in a corruption case related to one of his state Senate campaigns. But Monserrate has tried to make multiple comebacks since then, winning a district leader position in 2018 and attempting to win a City Council seat multiple times as well.