State Senator Marty Golden and his upstart opponent, Democrat Andrew Gounardes, faced off at a debate last night hosted by the Dyker Heights Civic Association.
The 30-minute debate got heated at points, with Golden and Gounardes occasionally raising their voices and breaking with debate protocol to ask each other questions or attack one another.
Among the issues discussed were gun control, women’s rights including emergency contraceptives for rape victims and fair pay, and education.
Education is how Andrew Gounardes opened the debate, attacking the 10-year incumbent for failing to bring home the bacon for local schools. He claimed Golden has voted 99 percent of the time with the Senate Republican leadership, which he said had been neglecting New York City’s schools, siphoning off funding and ignoring issues of overcapacity in New York City. The Senator responded by calling the claims “pure fantasy” and noted that he had brought funding to local schools, including adding 4,000 seats to the district.
On a separate question about education, Golden received boos for expressing his support for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of the city school system, while Gounardes said the state needed to do a better job ensuring the mayor is fulfilling his obligation to students, which, he said, appears not to be the case given college-readiness rates and school standards.
The crowd appeared to overwhelmingly support Senator Golden, many sporting Golden and GOP stickers – but Gounardes also brought a contingent of supporters who cheered him on. Both appeared to have “plants” in the crowd – or people who posed questions that exposed the weakness of their opponent.
One of those questions came from a female Gounardes supporter, who asked Golden if he supported Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s statements that rape victims should not have access to emergency contraceptives. It seemed Golden was pretending not to hear the question, and then rephrased it as “Should [rape victims] get emergency services immediately upon rape? Yes, they should.”
Gounardes won a round of applause for immediately shooting back that Golden had voted three times against a bill that would provide contraceptives to rape victims.
The insurgent opponent also won accolades when Golden made a few verbal stumbles, such as suggesting that New Yorkers can’t afford to provide equal pay to women and that importing oil and gas from Canada qualified as energy independence.
Golden, for his part, effectively presented his opponent as rabidly anti-gun and portrayed his own record on gun safety as a more effective and moderate approach. He also scored points by aligning Gounardes’ view on renewable energy investments with that of the Obama Administration, which has recently taken flak for providing $90 billion in breaks for green energy industries with little return shown on the investment.
Watch the debate above – it will likely be the most expansive, interesting and exciting to happen this year in Southern Brooklyn.