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UFT.org Home > News > New York Teacher > News stories > 4 of 5 UFT-backed candidates win on Sept. 13
by Michael Hirsch | September 22, 2011 New York Teacher issue
With a lift from UFT members in a low-turnout election, four of the UFT’s five endorsed candidates were elected to office or won a primary contest on Sept. 13.
At a chapter leaders’ meeting the day after the election, UFT President Michael Mulgrew lauded union volunteers in Brooklyn and Queens, where all but one of the races were held, “for being out in the street pushing and pushing.”
While the one congressional race in play did not yield favorable results for the union, the three UFT-endorsed candidates running for State Assembly in the city all claimed victory. One of the new lawmakers’ key tasks this fall will be renewing the millionaire’s tax, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.
“In this political climate and this tough economy, forging and keeping strong relationships with communities and engaging elected officials in Albany is key,” said Mulgrew. “This union and our schools can’t afford another year of budget cuts. That means among other things that the Legislature needs to pass a millionaire’s tax next year.”
With support from the UFT, Democrat Philip Goldfeder, a senior aide to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, came from behind in his race’s final days to fill the vacant 23rd Assembly District seat in southeast Queens, formerly held by Audrey Pfeffer. Goldfeder, a strong proponent of the millionaire’s tax, pledged to “help keep good teachers in the classroom” at the Sept. 1 press conference announcing the UFT’s endorsement of the two Assembly candidates from Queens, held outside PS 64 in Ozone Park.
In Flushing’s 27th Assembly District, Michael Simanowitz, the chief of staff to retired Assemblywoman Nettie Meyerson, won handily in the race to succeed his long-serving boss. “As the son and husband of school teachers, I know firsthand how hard teachers work every day, and I will make it my business in Albany to see teachers rewarded for their efforts,” Simanowitz said.
Manhattan’s Dan Quart, a pro bono housing lawyer, claimed the Upper East Side’s 73rd Assembly District seat vacated by Jonathan Bing, who was the Assembly sponsor of Bloomberg-crafted legislation to end seniority protection in layoffs and no friend of the UFT.
Quart spoke at an earlier Sept. 1 press conference announcing the union’s endorsement, held at City Hall. Standing with his parents and sister, all retired or active teachers, and remembering a grandfather who was also an educator, he said, “I grew up in a union family, so it’s a family experience to be endorsed by any union, but I am especially honored by your endorsement. I look forward to the next legislative session, and I’ll be there with the UFT.”
Rounding out the UFT victories, incumbent Ruben Wills won the Democratic nomination in the primary in Jamaica, Queens, for the 28th City Council seat. Wills was a trusted ally during the union’s battle with the Department of Education over closing schools last year.
The sole loss of the day came in the 9th Congressional District, which spans Brooklyn and Queens, where State Assemblyman and former City Council finance chair David Weprin, despite a strong volunteer effort by the UFT and other unions, was defeated by Republican Bob Turner in what the GOP standard bearer tried to paint as “a referendum” on the Obama presidency.
Upstate, NYSUT-endorsed candidate Anthony Brindisi in Utica and Sean Ryan in Buffalo won in two Assembly special elections where the UFT’s statewide affiliate mobilized members.
This story was first published on UFT.org on Sept 16, 2011.