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NYSUT backs Democrat James Gaughran for state Senate

Rick Brand

Democratic State Senate candidate James Gaughran has gotten an early endorsement from New York State United Teachers in his rematch against GOP Sen. Carl Marcellino, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

The endorsement came a month before the union normally meets in Albany to pick candidates to back in the November election. Gaughran was the only Long Island candidate to get NYSUT’s early backing. Three Assembly candidates and three other State Senate candidates, including incumbent Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers, Senate minority leader, also got the union’s early support.

Andy Palotta, NYSUT president, said the union chose Gaughran after Marcellino and others “turned their backs” on teachers and students by failing to overhaul the teacher evaluation system. Palotta called Gaughran “a better choice” to restore “local control of our schools.”

Gaughran said the support is a “tremendous boost” for his campaign, noting the powerful teachers union was neutral in his first race against Marcellino two years ago. Before that, Marcellino had gotten NYSUT’s backing.

“Making sure the district schools get more funding out of Albany is my major priority” along with giving students a “well rounded education instead of just teaching to a test,” Gaughran said.

Marcellino, a former teacher and administrator, called himself the best candidate to prevent the “rise of an aggressive New York City-centric agenda that will hurt our schools and make life more difficult for Long Island taxpayers.” He said he will continue to press for school aid increases, and “continue the discussion to insure the goals of higher standards and achievement are not crushed by bureaucratic bungling.”