Andrew Gounardes will officially become the state senator representing Brooklyn’s 22nd Senate District as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, but the soon-to-be lawmaker has another date marked on his busy calendar that’s likely to be just as meaningful to him.
Gounardes, a Democrat who defeated longtime Republican state Sen. Martin Golden in the Nov. 6 election, will return to his alma mater, Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, for a special ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 27, during which he will take the oath of office in front of a crowd that will include family, friends, fellow lawmakers and community leaders.
Gounardes announced the ceremony in a recent email to supporters.
Fort Hamilton High School, located at 8301 Shore Road, holds a special significance for the senator-elect, according to his spokesman, Evan Weinberg.
“The location was chosen because of the senator-elect’s ties to the school. He, his mom and sister all graduated from Fort Hamilton High School and all had the same English teacher,” Weinberg told this newspaper via email. Gounardes’ brother also attended Fort Hamilton.
Plans for the ceremony have not been finalized, Weinberg said. Gounardes and his transition team are still working out details such as the roster of guest speakers. Still to be announced is the identity of the person who will administer the oath of office to the freshman lawmaker.
In addition to the Jan. 27 festivities, Gounardes has another big date coming up. He will also be sworn into office in the State Capitol in Albany on Jan. 9.
But he is officially the state senator as of midnight on Jan. 1. At that point, he will be able to turn in the title of senator-elect and exchange it for the title of senator.
In the meantime, the transition team is also working closely with Gounardes on such matters as hiring new staff, setting up a legislative office in Albany and opening a constituent service office in Southwest Brooklyn. The team is led by Tori Kelly, a top legislative aide to Assemblymember Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst-Dyker Heights). Kelly is also the Democratic district leader of the 49th Assembly District.
Other names on the Gounardes transition team include Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst); former Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Lew Fidler; Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City; and Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress.
Gounardes beat Golden, who had been in office for 16 years, back on Nov. 6, but Golden did not concede defeat until nearly two weeks later, citing his preference for waiting until absentee ballots were counted.
The New York State Board of Elections certified Gounardes as the winner on Dec. 14.
The Senator-elect posted a photo of the board’s certification notice on his Twitter account. “Well, I guess it’s really, really official now,” Gounardes wrote.
The 22nd Senate District takes in all or parts of several Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach.