By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — Vowing to stand up for “hardworking people, small businesses, our seniors and our veterans,” Democratic Bay Ridge politico Andrew Gounardes officially announced that he is running against Republican-Conservative state Sen. Martin Golden in the November election.
With his alma mater, Fort Hamilton High School at 8301 Shore Road, serving as a backdrop, Gounardes told a crowd of supporters and local political leaders at his announcement on Saturday morning that, if elected, he will fight to get rid of “decades of dysfunction in Albany,” which he said hurts schools and other important institutions.
“We deserve better. We need a new voice. Talking tough is not enough,” Gounardes said, charging that the incumbent has missed important votes in the state legislature, such as a recent bill on gun control.
Gounardes is hoping to unseat Golden, a four-term incumbent, in the state Senate’s 22nd District. The diverse district covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and includes sections of other communities, such as Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach. Golden has won each of his elections by overwhelming margins.
Gounardes is making his first try at running for public office and said he is undaunted at the prospect of taking on Golden, a popular and well-liked incumbent.
While he is a rookie at running for office, Gounardes said he is well-versed in politics after years of working behind the scenes for lawmakers.
Gounardes, who has served in the past as an aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile, currently works for the Citizens Committee for New York City, a nonpartisan organization that encourages residents to vote. He is a graduate of Fort Hamilton High School. A member of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Gounardes was a member for many years of the Boy Scout troop that is sponsored by the church. He is an Eagle Scout and is also a member of Community Board 10.
“He may be a new voice in politics, but Andrew Gounardes is an established voice in our community,” said Gentile, who introduced Gounardes to the crowd.
During Gounardes’ tenure in his office, “He worked hard,” Gentile said. “He knew how to interact with people.”
“Service and community aren’t just words. They mean something to me,” Gounardes said.
State Assemblyman Peter Abbate also attended the launching of Gounardes’ political career and called him “an important new voice.”
At his announcement, Gounardes offered a litany of issues he would work to solve and that he charged Golden had not solved, including transportation and school overcrowding.
Gounardes, who vowed to work to restore transit services that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cut in 2010, also said he would tackle school overcrowding.
Pointing to Fort Hamilton High School behind him, he said, “This school is one of the most overcrowded in the city. That is unacceptable.”
“Politicians throw money at problems, not solve them,” he said, vowing that he would be different.
He also sought to differentiate himself from Golden on the issue of same-sex marriage, which the incumbent voted to oppose last spring. The same-sex marriage bill was approved by the state legislature and is now law.
“When you violate the rights of some, you violate the rights of all,” Gounardes said.