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Union in high gear for Nov. 6 elections
UFT members urged to ‘exercise their right to vote’
by Michael Hirsch | October 18, 2012 New York Teacher issue
In addition to its push to help re-elect President Barack Obama, the UFT is working to elect a number of state lawmakers on Nov. 6 who will support public schools, unions and the needs of teachers, parents and children.
The effort is part of a statewide campaign led by the New York State United Teachers, the UFT’s state affiliate, to elect its endorsed candidates, and the UFT as part of that statewide drive is assisting in races in Queens, Orange County and Westchester — areas in or close to the city and where significant numbers of UFT members and their families live.
In the city, the union is sending volunteers and organizing phone banks to re-elect Joseph Addabbo Jr. to Senate District 15 in Queens.
In Orange County, Chris Eachus, a 35-year veteran teacher and NYSUT member, is seeking to parley his community activism and county legislative experience into replacing the 84-year-old GOP incumbent in Senate District 39. The district includes the city of Newburgh and runs from Haverstraw in the south to just below New Paltz in the north. Asked why he is running, Eachus said he’s “tired of the abuse teachers are taking” and that “enough is enough.”
In Westchester’s Senate District 37, Assemblyman George Latimer faces a Republican opponent for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Suzi Oppenheimer, the former state Senate Education Committee chair and now its ranking member. The district runs from the southern border of Yonkers to the northern tip of Bedford, and includes parts of Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Harrison and White Plains.
Meanwhile, newcomer Justin Wagner is battling a longtime conservative officeholder to represent Senate District 40, which covers Mount Kisco, Newcastle, Peekskill and Brewster. Wagner says that he “believes that lawmakers should work with, not against, teachers in improving, reforming and reinvesting in New York’s schools.”
Paul Egan, the UFT’s director of legislation and political action, said the UFT can affect these four races not only through the traditional political walks and phone banks that it plans, but through mobilizing the thousands of UFT members who are themselves residents of these districts and registered voters.
“These contests could each be decided by a margin of less than 100 votes,” Egan said. “So every UFT member needs to exercise their right to vote.”
Egan said that UFT members in those districts should talk about the important issues at stake with their family members.
“They should also sit down with their families at the dinner table and talk about how these races are bread-and-butter contests for them,” he said. “The future of their pensions, maintaining tenure and winning fair evaluation procedures depend on it.”