Democrat Andrew Gounardes was elected to his Senate seat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Marine Park just two years ago in a Democratic wave year. Prior to that, the seat was held by a Republican for 15 years.
“I think this is a district that cares about everyday quality of life issues,” Gounardes said. “It’s a district that elected both Democrats and Republicans. It’s a district that cares about results for them. And that’s regardless of party.”
But while the 22nd Senate District has more enrolled Democrats than Republicans, the neighborhoods are home to many current and former firefighters and police officers. And a recent spike in certain categories of crime has left people concerned.
“Public safety is the absolute number one issue out here,” said Republican candidate Vito Bruno.
Bruno said votes by Gounardes to end cash bail for certain crimes have made people less safe, and his vote to repeal law 50-a, allowing police disciplinary records to be made public, sent the wrong message to this community.
“People are not happy about that either. If you are in the NYPD, and somebody cane you and charged you with something and you are completely innocent, it’s up there and people start looking at things from the past, whether they are correct or not,” said Bruno.
But Bruno has his own ties to an older, more corrupt New York.
A former nightclub owner in the 70s and 80s, Bruno once owned the dance floor made famous by John Travolta in the 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
Bruno admitted in previous interviews to paying off cops and providing drugs to celebrities in his nightlife era.
“I think my opponent this November is someone who has made his entire career off of chaos and crime,” said Gounardes. “Everyone talks about New York going back to the bad old days of the 70s and 80s, well this was someone in his prime during that time and really at the top of his game.”
“I don’t think anybody really cares about what happened 40 years ago,” Bruno said. “And to be quite honest about it, what he is saying and what they are putting out there, isn’t exactly true or factual.”
Another complicating factor is the vote by local City Councilman Justin Brannan to defund the NYPD by a $1 billion. While Gounardes had no vote on that issue, he is a close ally of Brannan’s.
The hard-fought race between Democratic Congressman Max Rose and Republican Nicole Malliotakis could also have an impact on the 22nd District, since part of it overlaps.