HARLEM, Manhattan — With a variety of state senate wins on Tuesday, the Democratic Party took control of both New York legislative houses, as well as the governor’s office. With those wins, New York joined New Jersey and Connecticut to put the entire Tri-state under Democratic control at all levels of state government
Andrew Gounardes, a possibly imminent addition to the state senate ranks, shared his view for what the Democratic control means on a practical level for New York residents.
Gounardes, a 32 year-old from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, declared victory Tuesday night in his race for the state senate, but uncounted paper ballots from the election have left the election a tossup, officially. Gounardes had sought to unseat 15-year veteran state senator Marty Golden.
The latest count, Gounardes said on Wednesday afternoon, “had me up ahead by 1,147 votes.”
“There are about 5 percent of scanner [results] to be reported in,” Gounardes said. “But those are in areas where we have done very, very well.”
Those uncounted ballots are the same reason why Golden, the Republican opponent, still won’t concede.
When “we have every vote counted,” Golden told PIX11 News early Wednesday morning, “I believe, at the end of the day, we will win this race.”
Until now, Golden had helped Republicans keep their one-seat majority in the state senate. On Tuesday, however, the Democrats picked up seven seats, and possibly eight, if Gounardes ultimately wins.
That development had Gounardes talking Wednesday about actions that a Democratic Albany will be able to take for New Yorkers, whether or not he prevails. He nonetheless sounded like he was going to succeed.
“I prefer starting with congestion pricing because I think that’s the most sustainable funding mechanism,” the Bay Ridge native said about part of the Democrats’ agenda for the state.
Congestion pricing, the plan to ease traffic by charging motorists for driving in Manhattan below 59th Street, is part of a call by legislative observers to get Albany’s New Democratic majority to carry out long-stalled projects and to fulfill neglected needs.
Also on the to-do list is fixing widespread voting problems, like the hours-long delays that many New Yorkers experienced on Election Day; as well as upgrading the subways (to be financed by congestion pricing); and the Reproductive Health Act.
That latter piece of proposed legislation would make a woman’s right to choose official state law, in potential defiance of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
In a random sample of New York voters, PIX11 did not find unanimity about the proposed Democratic agenda.
“I don’t agree with that, nah,” said Drew Smith, a Harlem resident, about congestion pricing.
Overall, however, he and other New Yorkers in the deep blue district of Harlem were supportive of one party rule across the board in Albany.
“It’s time for some Democrats to get in there,” said Ashlee Pacheco, as she waited for a bus on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard.
“All the [Democratic candidates] you mentioned, I voted for,” said Barry Johnson, a lifelong Harlem resident.
Gounardes echoed their comments, telling PIX11 that carrying out an agenda swiftly shouldn’t be a problem for the party that’s about to lead all aspects of state government.
“Democrats are already on board with all the things we’re talking about,” Gounardes said. “It’s only a matter of time before the session gavels in, and we’re able to do all these things.”