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Ousting Sen. Golden a priority

UFT backs Gounardes to defeat longtime lawmaker
New York Teacher
Man and woman standing at table
Jonathan Fickies

Teachers Zachary Lombardi and Ana Fernandez of PS 200 in Brooklyn check in at a union-run event for state Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes.

Woman looking at paper
Jonathan Fickies

Chapter Leader Dina Barghouti of PS 503 looks over a packet at the information session.

The need to defeat Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Golden on Election Day is crystal clear to Zachary Lombardi, a teacher at PS 200 in Golden’s district. “He doesn’t share the values of our community,” Lombardi said.

Golden, who represents the 22nd New York Senate District in southern Brooklyn, was one of three New York City senators who blocked state legislation last spring that would have cut the mandatory tie between student test scores and teacher evaluation. He also helped stymie school safety legislation in Albany.

“Marty Golden put his political agenda ahead of the safety of New York City schoolchildren when he refused to get his Republican colleagues to support the school speed-camera legislation,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Lombardi was one of more than a dozen UFT members who turned out for an Oct. 18 event organized by the UFT in Bensonhurst to connect UFT members in the district with the campaign of Andrew Gounardes, who’s running on the Democratic line to unseat Golden, a Republican. The UFT has thrown its full support behind Gounardes.

Lombardi’s PS 200 colleague, Ana Fernandez, says children aren’t the only ones Golden has failed. “The incumbent is anti-union,” she said. “We want to support someone who’s union-oriented and supports teachers.”

Golden has represented the district — which includes Bensonhurst, along with Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Midwood, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach — since 2003. In that time, he’s courted criticism for his record opposing public schools, unions and street safety measures, as well as for a string of controversies.

Golden has received 10 tickets for speeding in school zones since 2015, according to The New York Times. Over the years, according to media reports, the senator has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of campaign funds to Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall from which he’s earned significant income. Most recently, according to media reports, his campaign office manager, Ian Reilly, invited the white nationalist Gavin McInnes and his far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys, to a Republican Party event this October. The Proud Boys went on to assault numerous protesters later that evening.

Defeating Golden could have an outsize impact on state policy because it could cost the Republican Party control of the state Senate and clear the way for UFT priorities like improved teacher evaluation and more school funding.

UFT Political Director Paul Egan said this year offers a key opportunity to replace Golden in Albany. The UFT has about 6,000 members in the district, 908 of whom both live and work in the district.

“If UFT members in the district turn out and bring their family and friends — we can defeat Golden,” Egan said.

To boost that turnout, the UFT has organized events, including the Bensonhurst event, to provide opportunities for UFT members to join phone banks and door-knocking events for Gounardes. The union is also equipping volunteers to reach out to fellow members in the district and encourage them, member-to-member, to show up at their polling place on Nov. 6 and vote for Gounardes.

“It’s time to stop complaining,” said Lombardi, “and do something.”

See all the UFT's political endorsements in the 2018 election »

NY Teacher