With the June Primary a few months away and Councilman Mark Gjonaj set to square off against Marjorie Velazquez, Gjonaj dropped a bombshell announcing he was not running for re-election.
Gjonaj began his political career in 2012 in the Assembly and four years ago became the first ever Albanian-American to serve in the City Council. The 52-year-old Morris Park resident, who is the chair of the small business committee, is ready for a new chapter in his life.
The lawmaker has cherished his time as a member of the council and is proud that he has fought for seniors, affordable housing, businesses, safe neighborhoods and food insecurity. During the past year he has stood with his constituents during the pandemic and distributed more than 80,000 food boxes, 66,000 face masks, provided over 1,400 COVID-19 tests and held numerous town halls.
“Although I have worked hard and much has been achieved, I have decided to finish out my term and not seek re-election in the City Council,” Gjonaj said in a statement. “It is not a decision that I come to lightly and I know will come as a surprise and disappoint many of my supporters.”
Gjonaj explained that he has grown frustrated with the policy makers in the city and feels that public service in NYC has become “identity politics,” which divides people instead of bringing them together.
The councilman noted as a proud Albanain-Ameircan he is shocked at the amount of nasty things that have been said about him and those of the Albanian community.
“I will not allow myself to be used as a weapon to divide the district or be used to tarnish a community or ethnicity,” he said.
“I want to publicly thank my family for their many sacrifices, my supporters being with me along this incredible journey and my staff for their unwavering commitment and dedication.”