By Aimee Levinson
This November marks the end of Michelle Schimel’s nine-year journey as New York assemblywoman. It all began in 1999 when Councilwoman Lee Seeman asked Schimel to run for town clerk of North Hempstead. Schimel had always been involved in causes that she was passionate about, starting from when she was a young mother worried about her children’s safety in regard to gun violence. However, this was the first time that she was an active politician. She held the position of town clerk for years until March 2007 when she became assemblywoman after a special election.
It was from there that she led the crusade to make New York a safer place, prime sponsoring 66 pieces of local legislation. Over the years, she has accomplished many political achievements, but the ones she takes the most pride in have to do with gun control, such as the NY SAFE Act, and the environment. Just this fall, Schimel was called to meet with the Obama staff to discuss how she helped make the gun control laws in New York State successful. Her environmental concerns range from water quality to hydrofracking, which she helped ban in New York.
While her accolades and passions reach far and wide, Schimel has decided that this would be her last term in office. When asked about her choice she said, “It was the hardest decision that [she] ever made,” but she needed a little more equilibrium and balance in her life. It took Assemblywoman Schimel many months to make her choice. Speaking with her, one could tell how passionate she is about her position and how much time and thought she put into her decision. The things she said she’ll miss the most are “…the office, the camaraderie and the excitement.” Although she’ll miss it, Schimel said that she’s ready for the next chapter.
Here’s the question that intrigues everyone: What is the next chapter for Michelle Schimel?
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of science and a certificate in physical therapy, Schimel is an established professional who has conquered fields other than politics.
For many years, she was vice president of a fashion firm in New York City and was also a physical therapist at North Shore Hospital. While she still has great interest in both health care and fashion, she has no immediate plans for this next step in her life.
Having worked full time since she was 21, Schimel has no intentions of retiring, but doesn’t yet know where she’ll land when she gets out of office. With the time she’s spent out of the health care and fashion professions, and the change in the industries, she can, as she put it, “…go back, but can never be in the same capacity.” For her, “The excitement [of this new chapter] is to see if [she] will find the same satisfaction [she] found in assembly in another field.”
That’s what Schimel is eager about—finding a new way to develop her passions. The way she sees it is that she has to love her work in order to do it and she can’t wait to find that new outlet. This time spent out of office will allow to her spend more time with her two sons, a law professor at the University of Miami and an industrial engineer in Manhattan. She will also have time to read more books by Ernest Hemingway and listen to books on tape about different presidents, two of her favorite pastimes, especially on the long rides home from Albany.
Even though Schimel’s life will start on a new path this fall, politics will always be part of it. For her, politics is about the issues, not about running for office. “I don’t have to be an elected official to focus on the issues that are really important to me. Water quality, gun provision, energy and the environment [are] things I advocated before the assembly and things I’m going to advocate always,” she said.
When asked if she would still be a part of the community, Schimel responded by saying that she isn’t going to disappear and that people will still be able to find her on Plandome Road or in Port Washington because she will always be involved.
While her journey as assemblywoman may come to a close and her new path is still unknown, one thing is for sure, this isn’t the last that we’ll see of the vivacious Michelle Schimel.