Gounardes touts progressive policy platform in race against Golden

Gounardes touts progressive policy platform in race against Golden
Photo by Daniel J. Marino

Voters must oust eight-term incumbent state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) on Nov. 6 because his policies do not reflect the values of his constituents, according to Golden’s Democratic challenger, Andrew Gounardes, who made his inaugural appearance on the Brooklyn Paper Radio Show on Oct. 19.

The state Senate hopeful outlined his more progressive policy ideas, which he promised would be more beneficial to the district than the policies Golden has backed.

“I disagree with a lot of his policy positions — I think his policy positions are bad for Southern Brooklyn,” Gounardes said. “What we need are people who go up to Albany and actually have a legislative record that’s going to help their communities, and I do take strong issue with a lot of the things that Marty Golden has done with his legislative record.”

Gounardes will face off against Golden on Nov. 6 to represent the 22nd District, which covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, and Midwood.

But the born-and-bred Ridgite claimed that the gerrymandered district was specifically drawn for Golden in 2002 to help him win his race against then-state Sen. Vincent Gentile. Gounardes added that he supports the amendment passed in 2014 establishing an independent redistricting commission to redraw the state’s districts every ten years, beginning in 2020, rather than state legislators.

“I think people should be choosing their own elected officials — politicians should not be choosing their own voters,” Gounardes said.

If elected, Gounardes could flip the balance of power in the upper chamber, since the Republicans currently only hold a one-vote majority. The candidate said the first policy he would try to rally his fellow Democrats around would be public financing of elections, to limit the influence of special interests and corporations in state elections, which he believes would make it easier for politicians and the constituents they represent to focus on the issues that matter.

“I think money is the single most corrosive influence in our political process. Hundreds of millions of dollars pouring in from special interests, dark money — who knows where it’s coming from,” he said. “We could finally limit the ability of special interests to pervert the process and pervert legislative outcomes, and have honest discussions about what the best policies are moving forward.”

A sharp point of difference between Gounardes and the incumbent is his support of the Child Victims Act to extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sex crimes, which Golden has helped block for more than a decade.

“Right now, the statute of limitations is wholly inadequate for them to come forward and tell their stories,” he said. “[The Republicans] refuse to bring this bill up for a vote, and it’s way past time that it does.”

Gounardes also strongly opposes the Republican-backed alternative — a publicly funded Child Victims Fund to compensate victims because he does not believe taxpayers should have to foot the bill for pedophilia covered up for years by other institutions.

“I don’t think the public should be on the hook to pay for the sins of others,” he said. “I don’t know why they think using public dollars to pay people off is the right way to go. It does not seem like good public policy to me.”

The Democrat also pledged to push for passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which would legalize abortion under state law— an issue that Gounardes said is particularly important now that the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court is widely expected overturn Roe v. Wade.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when Roe v. Wade will be overturned,” he said. “The state of New York criminalizes abortion — were it not for Roe V. Wade, women would not have the right to choose in the state of New York.”

Some of the candidate’s ideas focus closer to home, including creating a new specialized high school in Southern Brooklyn, working with the city Department of Transportation on road redesign in the district, and building a waterfront park extending from Bay Ridge to Coney Island.

Gounardes has never before held elected office, and lost his 2012 race against Golden by a 16-percent margin. But the candidate said he’s confident that he stands a better chance this time around because he has more political experience under his belt, and has cultivated more support in the community than he had before his first campaign.

He currently works as Counsel to Borough President Eric Adams, and formerly worked as an aide to former councilman Vincent Gentile and U.S. Sen. Bob Mendendez (D–New Jersey).

State Sen. Golden had also accepted an invitation for an interview with Brooklyn Paper Radio and its sister publications later the same day as the Gounardes interview, but his spokesman abruptly cancelled the appearance, without explanation, the day before it was scheduled to take place, and declined repeated invitations to reschedule.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.