Eagle Scout takes on state Sen. Marty Golden

Andrew Gounardes, a 26-year-old Fort Hamilton graduate, threw his hat in the ring to challenge powerful Republican lawmaker Marty Golden, who has held the seat since 2002.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A 26-year-old Eagle Scout has his sights on Sen. Marty Golden’s seat, calling the six-term legislator out for being a hypocrite and turning a blind eye on civil rights issues.

Democrat Andrew Gounardes, a Community Board 10 member who works for a Manhattan organization that funds local volunteer groups, is hoping to win the district the veteran lawmaker has held since his young opponent was 16.

Gounardes pulled no punches at his campaign kick-off in front of Fort Hamilton High on Shore Road, linking Golden (R–Bay Ridge) to a culture of corruption in Albany, and for allowing a bloated state budget to spiral out of control.

“We can stick with the status quo and reelect someone who has been part of Albany’s decades of dysfunction,” Gounardes told more than 50 supporters. “Someone whose record in office has hurt working and middle class families by defending millionaires and weakening rent laws; someone who calls himself a fiscal conservative while allowing state spending to increase by $40 billion; someone who inexplicably misses key votes on issues like gun safety, the environment, and the economy. We can take that road. Or, we can do something better. We can say ‘enough.’”

Gounardes never mentioned the name of his opponent, but accused the retired cop and local businessman of “saying one thing in the community and doing another when the cameras are off in Albany.”

Golden brushed aside the accusations, and scoffed at his young opponent, who served as an aide to Senator Robert Menendez (D–New Jersey) and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).

“He’s 26-years-old and has done nothing so far in the district, so I guess he could say anything at this point,” countered a confident Golden.

Golden has a reason to be confident: he’s sitting atop a $400,000 war chest while Gounardes only has $65,000 to wage his campaign. He also received close to 60 percent of the vote during his 2010 election against Democratic opponent Mike DiSanto.

Golden also disputed Gounardes’s claims that he helped increase state spending, saying that $15 billion of that increase occurred in 2010, when Democrats were in control of the state senate chamber.

When we asked for specific examples of Golden’s failures, Gounardes could only point to the time that the lawmaker missed a key vote in 2010 that would have made it mandatory for semiautomatic weapons in the state to have identifying marks on spent shells — a bill Golden said he would have voted against anyway.

“When you miss votes and that’s what your job is to do — you’re not doing your job,” said Gounardes. “Missing votes is a huge problem.”

In the last legislative session, Golden only missed one vote, according to an analysis by New York Public Interest Research Group.

But Gounardes says even one bill is too many, and pointed out that, in previous years, Golden missed key votes on hydrofracking and bringing back the sales tax on clothes and shoes.

“Either way, you miss votes on important issues, that’s a problem,” he said. “That’s not serving us well.”

Gounardes said he would focus on school overcrowding if he was elected — pointing out the fact that his alma mater was 1,500 over capacity.

He also said that he would address transportation issues.

“The N line the R line and D line all come less frequently than any other train lines in the system,” he claimed.

According to an analysis of city subway lines, all three trains are scheduled to arrive less than the average train, but the M and C trains have the most delays, and the 2 and 5 trains have the least regular service.

Gounardes said later that he misspoke.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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