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by Michael Hirsch | published October 26, 2010
With the balance of power in the U.S. Congress in play, UFT volunteers are working overtime to re-elect Democrat Michael McMahon to the U.S. House of Representatives in a hotly contested race against conservative challenger Michael Grimm, a political newcomer.
“With so many important issues being debated in Washington, we need to support candidates who support us,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said of the contest in the 13th Congressional district which includes all of Staten Island and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend. “This race is critical for us. That is why re-electing McMahon on Nov. 2 is a key priority for this union.”
The union is running phone banks in both its Staten Island and Brooklyn borough offices, calling thousands of UFT members in the 13th Congressional District and door knocking and leafleting at transportation hubs on both sides of the Narrows.
“We’re even doing mobile phone banking, where members meet and call UFTers on their own cell phones,” said Paul Egan, the UFT director of legislation and political action.
Some 150 UFTers took part in a labor support walk for McMahon on Oct. 16, dispersing into Staten Island neighborhoods to promote their candidate to other UFT members. UFT President Mulgrew joined McMahon as the two went door-to-door visiting members in an effort to build support for McMahon’s re-election.
At the UFT’s Oct. 18 Executive Board meeting, Mulgrew noted that the McMahon-Grimm face-off was one of 100 competitive races in the House of Representatives, where, he added, the party that controls that body will have a profound impact on the teaching profession.
“We can’t sit on our hands,” Mulgrew said. “We’re going to make sure we don’t lose the Congress here in New York.”
The UFT applauds McMahon for supporting federal stimulus dollars, advocating for federal funds to help injured 9/11 rescue workers — a bill currently stalled in Congress — and supporting the president’s jobs program.
McMahon, a centrist Democrat, was first elected to Congress in 2008, taking a seat that had been held for nearly three decades by Republicans after disgraced GOP Congressman Vito Fossella did not run for re-election. McMahon previously served for two terms as a City Councilman.