State Senator Marty Golden and his Democratic opponent Andrew Gounardes exchanged heated words over issues including women’s health, gun control and education at the Dyker Heights Civic Association’s debate night on October 9.
Both candidates seemed to have an equal number of supporters in the room who frequently cheered, booed and even hissed through the fiery exchange.
Gounardes, who is an attorney and member of Community Board 10, gave the opening remarks. “I believe and I know that our neighborhoods are being short-changed by Albany,” he said, contending that Golden has voted with upstate Republicans 99.8 percent of the time.
Gounardes contended that half the schools in District 20 and 21 are at capacity and that Golden voted against new school funding.
Golden called these claims, “pure fantasy,” asserting that he has gone “above and beyond,” adding over 8,000 seats to classrooms in District 20 and restoring $500 million in education funding for city schools.
The candidates also butted heads over gun control issues.
Golden explained his latest legislation that would increase penalties for those caught using “community guns.”
“We are one of the safest four states [in the country] when it comes to gun control,” Golden contended.
Gounardes noted that Golden received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. “You can’t be in the pocket of gun lobbyists; they have no place in our politics,” he charged.
When it comes to education, Golden praised mayoral control. “He was trying to do the best he could. Legislators are what owned the schools and he changed that,” he said. “There is not enough parental involvement.”
Gounardes said he was “disturbed” by these remarks. “[Schools are running] without accountability and the mayor was been given authority to run schools as he sees fit,” he stated. “We need real meaningful oversight.”
Golden fired back, asking if oversight should be given to all city agencies, such as the Police Department and Department of Housing.
“This mayor was elected three times. He should have oversight,” Golden stated to a room full of boos.
One constituent asked if Golden supported Missouri Congressmember Todd Akin’s comments that rape victims should not get emergency contraception.
After asking for the question to be repeated several times, he answered, “Yes, they should get emergency services.”
Gounardes shot back, “You voted against that bill three times up in Albany.”
When it came to the subject of equal pay, Gounardes contended that women get paid 85 cents to the dollar and noted the New York Fair Pay Act, which he supports, would aim to make sure women are paid the same amount as men.
Golden said that he voted for a series of women’s issues during his State Senate stint, but that the comparable worth concept is “objective and arbitrary.”
He said that the Fair Pay Act “would have taken a number of committees several years [to figure out] and would have cost us expenses that you would have never seen. This bill wasn’t that bill.”
“I am offended by that,” Gounardes retorted. “We can’t afford to pay women the same as men?”
In Golden’s closing remarks, he outlined his accomplishments and promised more of the same if re-elected.
“I have funded our schools to the tune of billions of dollars. I have lowered taxes for 99 percent of people [living in the state] this year,” Golden contended, adding that the film tax credit he supported has created “economic opportunities for a tremendous number of people.”
Golden stated that according to New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), he is among the state’s most productive legislators with a 99.84 attendance record. He added that NYPIRG also ranked him the second most effective legislator when it comes to bills passing both the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
“I believe that effective government is the key to good government. Being the second most effective legislator isn’t rhetoric, it’s fact,” Golden concluded.