The Blue Wave that political observers are expecting to sweep across the country on Election Day isn’t going to reach the shores of Southwest Brooklyn, Republican state Sen. Martin Golden is confidently predicting.
Golden, who is running for re-election in the 22nd Senate District on Nov. 6, said residents in his district tend to vote on a candidate’s record, as opposed to party affiliation. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the district, but that hasn’t added up to defeat for Golden, who first won the seat in 2002, has won re-election every two years since and is now running for a ninth term.
He considers himself a hands-on lawmaker who regularly gets out and engages the public at events like the Summer Stroll on 3rd and his Summer Concert series in parks.
“I am out there on a regular basis. People know me,” he told this newspaper during an interview in his Bay Ridge office on Monday, October 1. Visibility and name recognition are two of his strengths, he said.
Golden is the only Republican state senator representing Brooklyn.
His re-election bid is getting a great deal of attention in part because of the talk of a Blue Wave and because his Democratic opponent, lawyer Andrew Gounardes, ran against him in 2012 and impressed many political leaders with a strong showing in Bay Ridge.
Gounardes garnered more votes than Golden in Bay Ridge six years ago. Golden won the election due to his vote-getting strength in other neighborhoods like Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach.
Gounardes, who is chief counsel to Borough President Eric Adams, has the entire Democratic Party establishment behind him as he seeks to unseat Golden.
Golden said he is taking the challenge from Gounardes seriously. “I take nothing for granted,’ he said.
Golden has recently found himself at the center of controversies, including dust-ups over speed cameras in school zones.
After a state-approved pilot program authorizing speed cameras in 140 school zones around the city expired on July 25, the state Senate did not vote on a bill to renew it, as the state Assembly had. Transportation safety advocates accused Golden of flip-flopping on the issue, supporting the cameras and then opposing them, a charge he denies.
“There is no time when I voted against speed cameras. I think speed cameras do work. They do save lives. I take public safety very seriously,” said Golden, a retired police officer.
In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to re-activate the cameras on an emergency basis. “For now, our kids are safe,” Golden said.
Transportation safety advocates have also charged that Golden is a less-than-ideal spokesperson on the speed camera issue, since his car has been ticketed for speeding on numerous occasions.
Golden acknowledges the tickets, but said he is not the only person who drives his car.
Golden pointed to his record in the Senate and said he has sponsored many pieces of legislation and has offered strong support for bills introduced by GOP colleagues.
One of the bills he fought for would allow emergency medical technicians who were part of the recovery effort at the World Trade Center in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to take sick leave and have it covered under the Det. James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
After Mayor Bill de Blasio requested state legislation to speed up major roadway repair projects, like the rebuilding of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), Golden said the Senate got it done. “We will save hundreds of millions of dollars by speeding these projects up,” he said.
Golden said he supported congestion pricing for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire services entering Manhattan. The program, which begins in January, will reduce traffic congestion and generate funds for the transit system.
He is currently fighting for a so-called Lock Box to prevent New York State from siphoning money away the MTA and putting it toward other uses.
In addition to working to fund subway repairs, Golden said he also advocated for alternative forms of transportation to give commuters choices. “I have fought for ferries. I have been at the forefront and leading on that,” he said.
New York State has pumped almost $1 billion into fighting the opioid crisis. “We have to get people back on track and back into society,” Golden said.
He has also sponsored legislation to combat illegal home conversions. One bill would increase penalties against landlords who illegally convert one and two-family homes into multi-unit buildings. He is working on other legislation. “I’m looking for a crackdown through the entire process. We want to catch them when they are applying for permits,” he said.