A debate between state Sen. Marty Golden and upstart challenger Andrew Gounardes became a boxing match on Oct. 17, as the two rivals all but drew blood while clashing over the incumbent’s record on education.
Gounardes, a Democrat, accused Golden (R–Bay Ridge) of allowing his district schools to become some of the most overcrowded in the city by voting repeatedly against construction funds, while the five-term senator painted his opponent as simply being a cog in a Democratic machine bent on spiking taxes.
Golden claimed the money he’d voted against was in budgets a Democratic-majority Senate passed in 2007 and 2010, which imposed $15 billion in new taxes and fees on the state.
“My opponent does not have the facts, as usual,” he said. “I know the kids in this district are getting the best education in this city.”
“Marty has forgotten his own voting record,” said Gounardes, a former aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D–New Jersey), charging the lawmaker went against his own party to refute $30 billion earmarked for new schools in 2004 and 2006 when Republicans ruled Albany.
Moderator Peter Killen tried to diffuse the tension by steering the topic to other issues, but Golden ignored him to defend himself further over protests by some in the audience at the Fort Hamilton Senior Citizen Center on Fort Hamilton Parkway.
“Just remember that the Republicans were in the majority in 2006 and 2004, and the majority got the money here for our schools,” he said, adding that schools in his district, which spans miles away to Marine Park, had accommodated thousands more students during his 10 years in office.
The pair continued to duke it out, until Golden demanded to know if Gounardes would have supported the Democratic budgets and their tax hikes.
“I would not have voted to raise taxes and fees on New Yorkers, like you did 121 times in 2010,” Gounardes shot back.
Golden did not respond.
The forum, organized by the Bay Ridge Council on the Aging, also featured face-offs between Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Bay Ridge) and Republican contender Tom McCarthy, and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) and her Democrat opponent John Mancuso.
The group also invited Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) and his Democratic competitor Mark Murphy, but neither showed up.