Opinion: Vito Bruno knows we can’t go back to the ‘bad old days’

Guardian Angels Founder Curtis Sliwa recently endorsed Vito Bruno for State Senate.
Bob Capano

Last week, Curtis Sliwa, popular New York City radio host and founder of the legendary civilian crime fighting group the Guardian Angels, stood in front of the 95th street station in Bay Ridge to endorse Republican Vito Bruno for the 22nd State Senate District, which covers a large area of southern Brooklyn.

This seat was previously held by Republican Marty Golden from 2003 until 2018, when Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes won by a narrow victory.

Significantly, Sliwa, who currently leads the NYC Urban Reform GOP Coalition, supported Gounardes in the last election when he was chairman of the NYS Reform Party. Outside the Bay Ridge train station, Sliwa gave a “mea culpa” to district residents for endorsing Gounardes two years ago — one of the “biggest mistakes” he says he’s ever made.

The prospective Republican mayoral candidate said he is a fierce believer in term limits — one of the main reasons he endorsed Gounardes over Golden. However, he also accused Gounardes of “political tricknology” by portraying himself as a moderate during the campaign only to jump all in with the far-left progressive crowd once elected.

Sliwa recalled attending an event for Gounardes in the summer of 2018 where he was assured that the then-Democratic hopeful understood the importance of law and order, and supporting the police. However, since being elected, the freshman senator voted for bail reform and has joined most other Democrats with his anti-police rhetoric and record. 

For example, he tweets about any hint of alleged police misconduct, but remained silent during recent incidents of looting and attacks on our police.

As a former cop, no one could ever doubt Golden’s law enforcement bona fides or commitment to keeping New York City and his district safe. Likewise, Sliwa said, Bruno — a successful business owner — has always focused on community improvement, supports our police, and represents the values of the district.

Even after his recent endorsement of Bruno, Sliwa and other former Reform Party members came under fire from a faction of the Brooklyn GOP for their previous decision to back Gounardes.

But, in comments on Facebook, Golden’s wife Colleen — who is almost universally respected in the community for her own civic involvement — put it best. She said, “It takes a big man to apologize for backing someone that stabbed his constituents in the back and the Reform Party. I for one thank Mr. Sliwa. We all make mistakes.”

More people should take accountability for their actions, she went on. “We were all duped.”

Colleen hopes we can all come together to elect Bruno — and I do, too. This seat is one that can be won again for the GOP.

Bruno has focused on the dire consequences of bail reform and defunding the police. This is an effective message, especially considering that we haven’t seen this many city shootings in the month of June since 1996.

More locally in the 68th Precinct, which covers the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights portion of the senate district, rapes are up 85.7 percent and burglaries are up 144 percent year-to-date compared to 2019.

While Sliwa and Bruno understand that we can’t go back to the bad old days of rampant crime, Gournades and the Democrats seem intent on taking us back to those days.

Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.