State Senator Marty Golden and his opponent, Democratic challenger James Kemmerer, came out swinging during a candidates forum held at Our Lady of Angels on Tuesday, September 23.
Kemmerer started out by challenging the Republican-Conservative incumbent on a host of fronts during the event, billed as the Great Bay Ridge Debate by its organizers, the Bay Ridge Community Council.
Among the charges he hurled at Golden was giving grants amounting to tens of thousands of dollars to “a shady non-profit” cited in the Moreland Commission report, he said, as doing nothing to benefit New Yorkers. Kemmerer also charged that Golden had “funneled” business to the family catering hall, the Bay Ridge Manor.
Such dealings, Kemmerer said, were “why I am running for state senator. You can always count on me to do the right thing. I am not for sale.”
Golden, in response, scolded Kemmerer, telling him, “You can’t make unfounded accusations as you did. To insinuate that I am anything else but a public servant serving his constituents makes you not a person that should be representing this great state senate seat.”
With respect to the Bay Ridge Manor, Golden said that he had held events there and at other venues as well. “We did not funnel any type of money [to it],” Golden said, stressing that when events were held at the Manor, “We did it correctly and by the law.”
And, with respect to the “shady non-profit,” Golden contended that it, in fact, did serve people in the neighborhood where it was located, and pointed out that it had gotten funding not only from him but from numerous other elected officials. “You’re entitled to your opinions, not your facts,” he told Kemmerer.
As he spoke, Golden pointed out numerous achievements – among them, the return of weekend express bus service, the restoration of the B37 Third Avenue bus, support for various start-up companies in the borough that had brought jobs into Brooklyn, and helping to bring hundreds of millions of education dollars into the city, among other things.
The two differed on numerous fronts. Among these was taxes, with Kemmerer asserting that they are “at their lowest rate in 60 years,” and contending that “the real problem is that wages aren’t rising fast enough,” and Golden saying he would like to reduce taxes as a way of stimulating the economy and keeping businesses in New York State.
The pair also disagreed about the Women’s Equality Act, with Kemmerer supporting all 10 provisions of it and Golden saying that he had voted for legislation in the State Senate containing nine of the provisions, while leaving out the 10th. That 10th would have shifted the state’s abortion law from the penal law to the health law as well as given additional protections to physicians performing abortions, though abortion opponents contend it would liberalize the state’s abortion laws.
They also disagreed about fracking, with Kemmerer opposing it completely, and Golden opposing it within the New York City watershed while remaining “open” to it in other areas, and pointing out that he is backed by the League of Conservation Voters.
Toward the end of the debate, both Kemmerer and Golden got back to the subject of corruption, with Kemmerer saying he was a “fighter against corruption,” and contending that “corruption prevents us from accomplishing a lot of goals.”
Golden agreed, telling the audience, “I have fought my whole life against corruption as a police officer and I will continue to fight against corruption.”
He also charged that Kemmerer had “lived in three different places in the last seven years, you haven’t got the qualities to be senator of this great district.”
While Kemmerer denied “living in three different states in the past seven years,” he did say that “a fresh set of eyes can see that schools are overcrowded, that seniors are struggling everyday going up and down the stairs in the subways.”
Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.