BAY RIDGE – State Sen. Marty Golden is looking to serve a ninth consecutive term as state senator of the 22nd Senate District in Southern Brooklyn. The area includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park and Midwood. This year, the lawmaker faces Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat, in the November 6 general election.
The Republican lawmaker’s life has been largely spent in public service. From 1998 to 2002 he served as a New York City councilman for the 43rd Council district. Before that, he was an officer of the New York City Police Department. He’s been in the news lately for his support of his staffer who invited Proud Boys to the Manhattan Republican Club, though he did fire another earlier this year for anti-semitic comments, for his driving record and slow support for extending speed camera legislation, and for not making time for some of his constituents.
Here’s a Q&A on the politics and the pressing issues within the district:
Q. The Southern Brooklyn community is very divided now. In this climate of hate and fear, what are you planning to do to bring the community together?
A. To start – our diverse Southern Brooklyn communities have far, far more in common than they have differences. But when there is tension around differences, I have worked to emphasize and build on the commonalities. In the past, when the community has been divided, I have worked to bring people together. In the wake of 9/11, I was one of the founding members of the Bay Ridge Community Task Force. Similarly, I was the first elected official in the area to hire a Chinese-American staff member to work with and serve the growing and dynamic Brooklyn Chinese-American community.
Q. People want to hear the justification for keeping Ian Reilly on staff. With all the negativity surrounding the Manhattan Republican Club, why is it important to keep Ian Reilly on staff?
A. Mr. Reilly is not a member of the “Proud Boys” or any other alt-right group. He is a leader of the Metropolitan Republican Club, one of the oldest and most established Republican clubs in the city – one which mayors, governors, and presidents participated in. Mr. Reilly has made it clear to me that it was not his intent to invite a speaker who would incite violence. The goal of the Met Club in presenting this speaker was to present one of the “voices on the right.” The Met Club has a history of hosting speakers with different points of view. Mr. Reilly tells me that his intent was to open discourse, not to incite violence, and I take him at his word.
Q. For many in the district, your constituent services are well-regarded, how do you wish to expand on them if re-elected?
A. I have always made constituent services a priority, it’s the top priority of my office. Each year, we help thousands of neighbors and families with various problems. We have one of the busiest offices in the state, for sure. We provide a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program that has helped more than 5,000 taxpayers file their returns. In recent years, we have augmented that service by helping constituents with property tax appeals.
Since Superstorm Sandy, my staff and I have worked to help those who lost their homes to rebuild. Bureaucracy can be frustrating and aggravating, so I am happy to help cut through the difficulties many have with the government in order to facilitate responsive and fair outcomes. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected, I will continue this commitment to constituent service. Notwithstanding what some might say, people just don’t need legislators; they need advocates and often a helping hand. That’s what we try to do–that’s what we’ll continue to do.
Q. Southern Brooklyn has a large immigrant population, where do you stand on President Trump’s recent birthright citizenship stance?
A. That is a matter for the federal government. If the President goes forward with his executive order, I expect that the courts will take up this matter. I can say that my office has been open to all, regardless of their citizenship status, and we will continue to be so.
Q. At the Chinese United Association, you said NYS has the best health care system, yet many of your constituents have no access to it for lack of affordable insurance. What’s some legislation that you would support considering that you don’t support universal healthcare?
A. I have supported budgets that have increased spending and expanded health care access in the state. I have supported legislation on Long Term Care Reform, internet posting of retail prescription, and a single EPIC/Medicare prescription drug card.
This year, I sponsored S. 520, which would require facilities to screen newborns for devastating neonatal diseases. I sponsored, S. 1165, a bipartisan bill, that deems central venous lines as medically necessary and needing post-discharge care and evaluation. I also was a sponsor of S1709, that would require insurers to cover three-dimensional mammograms under mammography services and extends the exclusion from annual deductibles and coinsurance to such services. I will continue to work to improve our health care system, which I regard as the best, but can always be improved.
Many of the metrics used to suggest that New York’s health care system is not the best fail to take into account that New York’s population presents challenges concerning chronic diseases, long-term and palliative care, and outcomes at our City and Specialty hospitals, which are national and international destinations for the most difficult of medical conditions and procedures. New York’s health system, given challenges, is the best–but I will continue to work to make it even better.
Q. What do you think are the biggest issues facing your district and what are you planning to do about them?
A. This is also about the commonalities that unite this diverse district. The big issues are those that all families and all of our neighbors prioritize.Quality schools – continuing to increase funding for programs, new schools, classrooms, STEM programs, and supplemental services; support tuition-paying families; and improving school transportation.Public transportation – protecting MTA funding; improving express bus service; and financing long overdue massive structural improvements to our subways and roads.Public safety – from law enforcement to school safety, and from continuing to aggressively tackle the scourge of opioid addiction to keeping politics out of policing.Jobs, jobs, jobs – the backbone of all our neighborhoods are good-paying jobs that support families and the communities they live in. Tax credits for business development, insisting on common-sense regulations, and supporting vocational training, all measures I have always and will always champion.Social services for children, grandparents and everyone in between, to keep everyone engaged, active, and a part of our community life.
Q. What is your favorite restaurant in the district?
A. Impossible to choose one but Peppino’s on 3rd Ave., Gino’s on 5th Ave., Buckley’s on Nostrand Ave., Ponte Vecchio and Casa Calamari are my top choices.
The senator will face with Andrew Gounardes in the upcoming Nov. 6. general election.