Veteran State Senator Marty Golden and Democratic challenger James Kemmerer tangled at a candidate’s debate sponsored by the Dyker Heights Civic Association.
At the forum, held at St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 80th Street and 11th Avenue, on Tuesday, October 14, the two sparred over numerous issues, with Kemmerer focusing on the issue of corruption and Golden stressing both his years of experience and his plentiful plans for the future.
The incumbent Golden, who has been in office since 2002, started by listing his accomplishments, many of which, he stressed, have brought funds back into the 22nd Senatorial District, which encompasses the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park.
These include burgeoning funding for education in New York City, as well as improving transportation options for district residents, and funding to encourage start-ups via tax breaks and other incentives to locate in the borough’s industrial areas, improving the economy and also creating jobs.
But, he said, the community can still “do better,” by creating jobs, adding more transportation choices such as increased weekend service on express buses and an express bus along Bay Ridge Parkway for Dyker Heights residents, as well as expanding economic growth opportunities by continuing to attract entrepreneurs to locations all along the Brooklyn waterfront, expanding on recent growth in the borough in the bio-med sector.
In particular, Golden said, the gaming industry is a sector to be pursued, through a digital tax credit “to create jobs and keep jobs here.” With some 12 to 14 million square feet of vacant space available along the borough’s waterfront, “We need to build jobs; we need to put kids to work.”
And, he promised, if re-elected, “I am going to continue to get things done, I am going to continue to bring money into the community and into the city, so we can use it where we need it.”
Kemmerer, for his part, told his listeners that Golden had supported giving “a $50 million tax break to one Manhattan real estate developer, a $100 million tax break to five Manhattan real estate developers and $500,000 to a very shady medical non-profit.” In addition, he said that Golden had “spent $541,000” from his campaign funds “at the family catering hall,” the Bay Ridge Manor – an issue that had come up at the first debate between the two.
“We now know that he knew at that time that he was being investigated by federal prosecutors,” Kemmerer went on. The New York Post broke the story on October 9 that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was investigating Golden’s campaign finances, though the article quotes Golden as saying that he did not know why.
“Ending this kind of corruption in our community is why I am running for State Senate,” Kemmerer added. “We need a government that is going to work for us. We need a government that is going to give tax credits to us, not big developers. We need someone who is going to fight for the middle class, not the donor class.”
In response, Golden contended that the tax breaks to which Kemmerer referred were given to developers in return for affordable housing creation, and he told his listeners that, as a representative of the middle class neighborhoods of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, he is a fighter for the middle class, by battling the illegal conversions scarring parts of the area, as well as bringing in funding for services that benefit local families.
While the two did not agree on a great deal, both expressed opposition to the new municipal ID cards that the city will be issuing, though Kemmerer noted that part of the problem is that nothing systemic has been done to resolve the issues around immigration. “We have to ask the question, ‘Why isn’t anything happening?’” Kemmerer contended. “For me, it’s always about the money. Someone, somewhere is profiting from it.”
Golden, for his part, focused on what he saw as the potential of municipal IDs to give terrorists what they need to attack the country. Looking back at 9/11, he noted that the terrorists on the planes had gotten driver’s licenses then took flying lessons and eventually, “Flew planes into buildings and killed 3,000 people.
“Now,” he said, “we are going to give out cards so they can do the same thing.”