By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Republican Marty Golden is running for re-election to the state senate, but Democrat James Kemmerer says he’s determined to take on the incumbent and defeat him in November.
Kemmerer, owner of GEEKPAK, a company that develops, designs and maintains websites for businesses, officially launched his campaign for state senate this week, confirming rumors that have been floating around Bay Ridge political circles for months about a possible run.
Kemmerer is the executive director of the Bay Ridge Democrats, a progressive political club that made a name for itself in early 2013 as the first Democratic club in Brooklyn to endorse Bill de Blasio for mayor. He also writes a political blog dealing with local issues.
Kemmerer, a native of Pennsylvania who moved to Bay Ridge several years ago, said he’s running against Golden to bring a fresh voice and a new perspective to politics. “The economic recession, political division and government dysfunction driven by increasing corruption must end,” he said in a statement on June 2. “The current generation is the first in American history not expected to do better than their parents. This is unacceptable. I’m running for the state senate because I believe the solutions to our problems are within our grasp. We just need a government working for the people, not the big money special interests who fund political campaigns and buy politicians.”
Kemmerer was part of a Hurricane Sandy relief effort launched by the organization Bay Ridge Cares. The group prepared tens of thousands of hot meals in the kitchen of a Bay Ridge church and delivered the food to victims and recovery workers in the months following the devastating super-storm of 2012.
Kemmerer vowed that if elected, he would continue working on behalf of Sandy victims. “I’m a problem-solver by profession, and I look to apply my skills to local issues including Hurricane Sandy recovery. My family and I have worked providing food relief, helping with demolition and I continue to work on policy and advocacy for the families affected by the storm,” he said.
Justin Brannan, president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, said Kemmerer is a strong candidate. “Jamie talks the talk and walks the walk. He has proven himself as an activist on the frontlines. I personally have worked side by side with Jamie on everything from Hurricane Sandy relief efforts to campaign finance reform and that's what we need – someone who will fight for all of us up in Albany, someone who will put Brooklyn first, someone who won't say X on Third Avenue and then go upstate and vote Y,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Jamie is a man of great integrity and will make a great state senator. Our club is proud to support him."
The 22nd Senate District, which Golden, a retired New York City police officer, has represented since 2002, includes neighborhoods that were hit hard by Sandy, including Gerritsen Beach and parts of Manhattan Beach. The district covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and winds its way along southwest Brooklyn, taking in portions of Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Marine Park. Golden lives in Bay Ridge.
In the past, Golden, who has run with both Republican and Conservative party support, has cruised to easy election victories. But in 2012, Democrat Andrew Gounardes shocked the political establishment by beating Golden in his own backyard. Gounardes, a lawyer, garnered more votes in Bay Ridge than the incumbent. Still, Golden defeated Gounardes overall 58.1 percent to 41.9 percent and won re-election on the strength of voter turnout in Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and other parts of the senate district.
Kemmerer is hoping to reverse the trend of election victories for Golden.
“I’ve been a small business owner for over 14 years,” he said.”My wife Elisha and I live in Bay Ridge and are the proud parents of a 22 month old son named Jerome. We understand the tough choices middle class families face each day, and for us New York’s future is our family's future.”
The election is Nov. 4.