BAY RIDGE — A large and enthusiastic crowd of elected officials, community leaders, friends and family packed the Brooklyn Firefly restaurant in Bay Ridge on Sunday, Feb. 23 for State Sen. Andrew Gounardes’ official re-election campaign kick-off celebration.
Gounardes’ win over former Republican State Sen. Marty Golden in 2018 helped establish a strong Democratic presence within the district. Gounardes, Democratic City Councilmember Justin Brannan and Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose have joined forces over the past year on a number of issues, leaving Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis the lone Republican lawmaker in Brooklyn.
Republicans have tapped Vito Bruno, a businessman and music impresario, to run for State Senate against Gounardes.
“It was exciting to see so many Brooklynites this weekend ready to do the hard work necessary to win again this November,” Rose told this paper.
Rose and Brannan were there to wish their colleague well on his bid for reelection. Also in attendance was a who’s who of elected officials including State Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember and Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte, City Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Alan Maisel, and Assemblymember Peter Abbate. Democratic district leaders attending included Joseph Bova, Tori Kelly, Ari Kagan, Nancy Tong and Brad Reid. Former Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio also attended the gathering.
Gounardes’ wife Melanie, his parents Steven and Dianne Gounardes, and his brother Gregory Gounardes were by his side helping him celebrate.
Brannan welcomed guests to the kickoff. “It feels like yesterday that we were at Andrew’s inauguration,” said Brannan. “It’s time now for him to defend his seat. In the past year, Andrew has gotten so much done with his colleagues in Albany to really push a progressive agenda and an agenda that’s going to help lift up and raise up working people, ordinary people, and that’s what this is all about.”
Brannan introduced Gounardes’ wife Melanie as “someone who knows Andrew even better than I do.” She explained that she’s been beside him ever since he launched his first campaign in November 2017.
“With Andrew, Mike Gianaris and all the senators up in Albany, we saw the most productive legislative session in New York history, with 935 bills passed by June, and we are just getting started,” said Melanie.
“We’re here today because we want to make this world a better place and because we want to send Andrew Gounardes back to Albany as our voice. This is a man who truly believes that his neighborhood, his home, your home, my new home, is truly the center of the universe and he is so committed to making it a better place to live, to work and to raise a family that he literally doesn’t sleep at night,” added Melanie.
Gounardes thanked his team for all their support. “The last time we were in this room was the night of our primary victory. We started the 52-day sprint to the general election to what nobody thought would be possible,” said Gounardes.
“But we knew that the challenges facing southern Brooklyn were being ignored by the status quo for far too long. We knew that our neighbors demanded a new politics that brings people together and doesn’t define them by using fear and hatred as a weapon. We knew that the voices in our community, some who have been ignored for far too long, were ready to have their voices heard loud and clear. We knew, we organized, we fought and we won,” added Gounardes.
“It was exciting to join the huge crowd who came out for Sen. Andrew Gounardes,” Kagan told this paper. “It was wonderful to see so many express their support for the young, effective and dynamic legislator.”
Brooklyn Firefly is located at 7003 Third Ave.