Members turn out for ally
New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a progressive Democrat and a supporter of PSC issues, won re-election in NYS District 22 in a closely watched, tight race against Republican challenger Victor Bruno. After a several-day delay during which the last mail-in ballots were counted, Gounardes ultimately prevailed against a wave of pro-Trump rhetoric in his South Brooklyn district, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park.
One key to his success? PSC member support.
Gounardes, a Hunter College alumnus and adjunct instructor at Hunter College, has worked closely with the PSC and other CUNY advocates to call for greater investment in CUNY and the restoration of free tuition. In a 2019 Gotham Gazette op-ed co-written with Timothy Hunter, then the chair of the University Student Senate, Gounardes criticized the CUNY administration for failing to challenge the disinvestment responsible for low adjunct pay and an inadequate ratio of full-time faculty to students.
Gounardes first made waves two years ago when he unseated entrenched Republican senator Martin Golden. Golden “blocked full funding for CUNY, year after year, and was a chief opponent of speed cameras in school zones – until he got caught with 10 school-zone speeding tickets,” noted PSC President Barbara Bowen. Since assuming office, Gounardes “has been an outspoken ally of the PSC,” Bowen said. “He is strongly supportive of the New Deal for CUNY and quickly staked out a position for increased funding for CUNY, not just resistance to cuts. His election in 2018 was pivotal in creating a Democratic majority in the State Senate, enabling passage of the DREAM Act and other critical bills. Local electoral politics matter.” Hunter College PSC Chapter Chair Jen Gaboury is a resident of Gounardes’s district and spearheaded the PSC effort to help with Gounardes’s reelection. Gaboury told Clarion, “State Senator Andrew Gounardes is CUNY family. He’s a Hunter alum, the child and sibling of Brooklyn College alums and has served as an adjunct at CUNY. Among Andrew’s first actions in office was introducing a constitutional amendment to make undergraduate public higher education in New York tuition-free. Too often, our allies in the legislature have been insufficiently bold, mitigating cuts rather than pushing to bring revenue back to us.”
PSC members phone-banked for Gounardes in the weeks leading up to the election, using a script that described Gounardes as “a stalwart supporter of CUNY who consistently shows up to our ... press conferences, and has prioritized CUNY in his policy platform.” Campaign volunteers also pointed out that Gounardes supports investing in CUNY’s capital needs and eliminating tuition at CUNY and SUNY.
“Andrew won this race against a multimillion-dollar, dark money campaign funded by billionaire Ronald Lauder. This campaign actively pushed back against the politics of fear in a district in southern Brooklyn that voted to reelect Donald Trump,” said Gaboury.
TAX THE RICH
Justyna Jagielnicka, an HEO at the College Discovery Program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, said of her reason for phone-banking, “It is time to tax the rich to generate revenue and allocate funding CUNY needs to continue educating members of our communities.”
Luke Elliott-Negri, a PSC Executive Council member and the union’s new legislative representative, said, “We are thrilled that Senator Gounardes won reelection and were glad to play our part in pushing him to the finish line. The PSC, the whole CUNY system, the students in it, all New Yorkers who aspire to higher education, and all New Yorkers who aspire to send their children to get post-secondary degrees – the lot of us need Andrew Gounardes and more legislators like him, who are willing to speak up in public and in legislative session for our needs and fight for them no matter who fights back.”