It was ready, set, Go-unardes!
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D–Bay Ridge) redoubled his commitment to enact change in his new district during a local inauguration ceremony on Sunday, which followed his Albany swearing-in earlier this month.
“I have been given a gift by the voters of this district — a gift of great responsibility for the next two years — and it is incumbent upon me to do as much good as I can in these two years and make sure that the people of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Gravesend, Homecrest, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, and Marine Park have a voice,” said Gounardes, nodding to the many neighborhoods he represents as the senator for New York State’s 22nd Senate District.
The event at Gounardes’s alma mater, Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, kicked off as a family affair, featuring welcoming remarks by the newly minted elected’s brother and sister, Gregory and Patricia, and his girlfriend, Melanie Graf. The pol’s posse — along with his parents — then surrounded him on stage as he took the oath of office, administered by former Bay Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile.
A slew of more seasoned Democratic pols — including Bay Ridge Councilman Justin Brannan, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and New York State Attorney General Letitia James — delivered remarks praising Gounardes’ commitment to serving the community.
And a variety of performers dazzled the crowd with culturally diverse entertainment, which included a Chinese lion dance performed by members of the New York Lotus Light Association, and a traditional Arab dance by members of the Freedom Dabka group.
Gounardes, a born-and-bred Bay Ridgite, secured an upset victory over former state Sen. Marty Golden in last November’s election, defeating the eight-term pol by more than 1,200 votes, according to the Board of Elections.
But their sometimes tense battles on the campaign trail did not stop Gounardes from thanking his predecessor for his decades of public service.
“Even though we disagree on policy and principles, we both agree that serving our community is a sacred privilege, and I want to thank him for his service,” he said.
Golden, however, did not appear to share his successors’ goodwill. The ousted pol led a protest against Gounardes’ support for the recently passed Reproductive Health Act — which decriminalizes abortion in the state — across the street from the high school roughly an hour before the inauguration ceremony started.