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Election 2018

State Senate District 22 Questionnaires: Andrew Gounardes vs. Ross Barkan

Insurgent candidates are challenging incumbents in Albany this year like never before — and for good reason: The State Senate's failure to pass speed camera legislation this summer, the legislature's stall on congestion pricing, and the upper chamber's general political dysfunction are motivating people to focus on whether Albany itself is working.

So Streetsblog asked candidates in the upcoming Democratic primaries to answer basic questions about street safety and mobility. Today we look at Brooklyn's 22nd Senate District: Andrew Gounardes vs. Ross Barkan. This is that rare district where the Democratic primary is only a first salvo: The winner goes on to face incumbent Senator (and street safety pariah) Marty Golden in November. In this race, StreetsPAC made no endorsement, choosing to endorse whomever wins.

Here are the candidates' answers, unedited, with a map of the district at the bottom of this post:

Do you support congestion pricing in New York City? If so, in what form? If not, why not?

Andrew Gounardes headshot

GOURNARDES: I support the Fix NYC plan, and congestion pricing in general, provided that two important criteria are met. First, the funds raised from any congestion pricing plan must be dedicated solely and wholly to our mass transit system, specifically our subways and buses. Second, the proposed investments to mass transit must be definite, concrete, and immediate, and must include upgrades to the signaling network and making all subway stations accessible for all. We should not have to wait until after we start charging congesting pricing fees to make investments in our system - the MTA should issue bonds to be paid from future revenues and begin investing in our system now.

BARKAN: I support the Move NY plan.

Subway ridership is down and New York's buses are slower than ever. What will you do in Albany/are doing in Albany to fix it?

GOUNARDES: I will fight to give riders a vote on the MTA board so that riders have a say in how the budget is spent. I will also create a lockbox for transit funds to guarantee a dedicated revenue stream for desperately needed upgrades and repairs.

BARKAN: I released a comprehensive transportation plan that addresses all of these concerns. (Find it here.)

MTA capital projects routinely cost five times as much as transit projects in other cities. How will you exert pressure on the MTA to control costs?

GOUNARDES: By appointing voting rider representatives to the board- the MTA would have to be accountable to the taxpayers. As it stands right now, riders have no actual power to hold the MTA accountable for cost overruns or reckless spending.

Ross Barkan headshot

BARKAN (left): I will hold the MTA to account through hearings, legislation, and pressure campaigns in the media.

It is insane that the MTA routinely blows budgets and spends more on capital projects than any other transit agency in the world.

We need to overhaul the procurement process entirely and have competitive bidding on projects so corrupt, politically-connected contractors don't further ruin our transit.

How would you make streets in your district safer for walking and biking? Do you support the city's construction of protected bike lanes? If so, why? If not, why not?

GOUNARDES: I will fight for speed cameras in every school zone, because speed cameras save lives. I will advocate for accelerated road redesign including the construction of protected bike lanes to make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Additionally I will advance pedestrian ramp construction to make our crosswalks safer and more accessible. I will also holding dangerous drivers accountable by suspending licenses for drivers with multiple violations so they can’t get back behind the wheel. I also believe we need increased traffic enforcement and should requiring driving refreshers or defensive driving courses with every license renewal so that drivers stay educated — and safe — throughout their lives behind the wheel.

BARKAN: I support expanded protected bike lanes, speed bumps, speed cameras in every school zone (made permanent) and street redesigns that put the safety of pedestrians and cyclists first.

What is the single biggest thing the state should do to get reckless drivers off New York City streets?

GOUNARDES: I believe we need to suspend licenses for drivers with multiple violations, drivers with a proven record of disobeying the law and speeding should not be allowed back behind the wheel.

BARKAN: More enforcement. The State needs to make it easier for licenses to be suspended or revoked.

Is there a safety, design or enforcement strategy that is not being deployed that you think is vital to making our roadways, sidewalks and public spaces work better for everyone? (Hint: This is a "visionary" question, so don't think small.)

GOUNARDES: I plan to create a “Safe Routes to Parks” program, in consultation with neighbors, the City and State to identify priority routes to local parks and analyze walkability and safety so everyone can get to and from our parks safely.

BARKAN: I would like to see far better protections for pedestrians and cyclists in crowded areas in Manhattan. With cars now being used as weapons of terror, we have to make sure attacks like the one launched last Halloween aren't occurring again. We have to consider where private vehicles should be and where they shouldn't — it's not safe to have a lot of cars in places where pedestrians and cyclists are moving around in large numbers.

How often do you bike to the office (be honest)?

GOUNARDES: I love cycling. And before my bike was stolen two years ago, I rode my bike constantly. Between training for a marathon last year and running for office this year, I haven’t had a chance to buy a new bike and get back on two wheels.

BARKAN: The office is in walking distance of where I live so I typically walk.

State Senate District 22

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