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Teachers switch allegiance in Senate rematch

David Ambro
Northport Observer

In a major shift of allegiance from their campaign two years ago, the 600,000 member New York State United teachers (NYSUT), the parent union of the state’s public school teachers union has endorsed democrat James gaughran in his rematch challenge against State Senator Carl Marcellino. (R-Syosset)

In 2016 Senator Marcellino, who is Chairman of the powerful State Senate Education Committee, held off Mr. Gaughran in a close race in which Mr. Marcellino received the NYSUT endorsement. NYSUT announced its endorsement of Mr. gaughran last week. Mr. Gaughran’s wife, Carol and her mother are both former teachers.

“After every single Senate Republican and several Democrats turned their backs on New York teachers and public school students at the end of this year’s legislative session, NYSUT vowed to remember who failed to stand with us,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “In this critical race Jim Gaughran is clearly the better choice for public school teachers and their students. We are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with Gaughran as we fight to restore local control of our schools and advocate for working families.”

NYSUT is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO. Its endorsement brings Campaign money and usually translates into votes in the general election. “I thank the educators at NYsut for endorsing my campaign and supporting my efforts to serve in the State Senate,” said Mr.Gaughran , an attorney and former Huntington Councilman and Suffolk County legislator who is currently chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority(SCWA) Board of Directors. “I am especially proud to have earned this endorsement because public service and supporting public education are core values to me. Our students deserve a world-class education, and that will only be possible if we invest in our public schools, I will fight to ensure our public schools and educators have the support and resources they deserve.”

A legislative proposal to end the mandatory use of controversial standardized student testing for teacher evaluations was supported by NYSUT and had 55 co-sponsors in the 63 member State Senate, but Senator Marcellino refused to bring it up for a vote and the bill died at the end of the legislative session June 20. The tests have been snubbed by tens of thousands of parents, especially on Long Island, where more than half of them had their children opt out of the state test, rendering the data collected from them inconclusive.

Senator Marcellino sponsored the legislation to separate teacher evaluations from the test scores, but then ensured it did not pass by not bringing it to a vote, which drew criticism from public school stakeholders as well as Mr. Gaughran. “As Senator Marcellino refused .to advocate for this essential legislation children will suffer as educators are forced to teach to these exams, rather than use innovative methods to truly educate students,” said a statement released by Mr. Gaughran.

The fifth Senate District runs along the North Shore of Long Island straddling the Nassau/Suffolk border. In the 2016 election, Mr. Marcellino won the race with 74,026 votes or 50.6%. Mr Gaughran received 72,265 votes or 49.4%. Mr. Marcellino lost his home county of Nassau with 36,628 votes or 48.94% while Mr. Gaughran won in Nassau County with 38,208 or 51.05% . Mr. Marcellino won the race in Suffolk County where Mr. Gaughran resides in Eaton’s Neck. The Suffolk Portion of the district is in Huntington, where Mr Marcellino received 37,398 votes or 52.33% compared to 34,057 or 47.66% for Mr. Gaughran.

As in the 2016 race Mr Gaughran will be running on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s equality lines while Mr. Marcellino will run on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform Party lines. Two years ago Mr.Gaughran soundly defeated Mr. Marcellino on the Major Party lines with 68,888 Democratic party line compared to 64,246 Republican votes for Mr. Marcellino who won the race on the strength of 7,736 votes cast for him on the Conservative line.

Mr. Gaughran in a statement released July 12 after submitting his nominating petitions, contends that he has expanded his organizational strength since the 2016 race. As an example, he cited that his campaign workers collected four times the number of signatures necessary for the party line designations.

“Our grassroots-driven campaign has talked to thousands of voters and received a tremendous outpouring of support during the petitioning process,” Mr. Gaughran said. “Long Islanders are excited about our campaign for a reason: they’re sick of the status quo and want a State Senator who will fight to clean up Albany’s corruption and reduce their tax burden. The thousands of signatures we submitted and hundreds of volunteers who turned out to collect them show that momentum is on our side as we head towards November’s election.”