The Great Bay Ridge Debate between state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Democratic opponent James Kemmerer on Sept. 23 was mired in mud-slinging, with the challenger painting Golden as a corrupt Albany insider, and the incumbent calling Kemmerer a carpet-bagging one-trick pony.
“Corruption is a very powerful thing, but you can’t just run on corruption,” Golden said, accusing Kemmerer of having a one-plank platform. “You have to know something about the community. You’ve lived in three states in the last seven years. You’ve got no qualifications to be the senator of this great district.”
Kemmerer, who moved to the district in 2009 after living in Chicago for a decade, said five years in Bay Ridge is long enough to qualify him.
“You don’t have to live here that long to see the problems,” Kemmerer fired back. “Donors control what gets done, so until we solve the problem, it will be hard to make progress on a whole host of issues.”
Kemmerer also told this paper he will unveil proposed legislation on several topics unrelated to campaign finance in the coming weeks.
But during the debate, the challenger hammered Golden over his alleged pay-to-play politics. Kemmerer cited legislation Golden authored in 2013 that supposedly rewarded a major donor and Sunset Park tobacco wholesaler, a Borough Park charity for which Golden secured major grants and which was scrutinized by the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, and the state senator’s ties to Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall his family owns that he frequently patronizes for political events — something pundits say may have caused a major rift in the Brooklyn Republican party.
The incumbent flatly denied any wrongdoing, noting the Moreland Commission’s investigation is now itself under investigation for internal bias, and that he was operating within the law when dipping into campaign coffers to rent out his family’s catering hall.
“We did not funnel any type of money,” Golden said. “We’ve had events in many different locations, and we’ve had events in the Bay Ridge Manor, which we paid for and we did it correctly and by the law.”
The two candidates will meet again at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center on Oct. 1.