The United Federation of Teachers today threw its support behind the three Queens Democratic candidates running in the Sept. 13 special election — Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), Michael Simanowitz and Phil Goldfeder.
Weprin is running against Republican Bob Turner for the 9th Congressional District, once held by Anthony Weiner. Simanowitz, whose opponent is Republican Marco DeSena, is vying to represent the 27th Assembly District, previously held by Nettie Mayersohn before she retired in March at the age of 86. Goldfeder and Republican Jane Deacy are running for the 23rd Assembly District, which had been represented by Audrey Pheffer before she left in mid-May to become the Queens County clerk.
"These are three candidates who understand the needs of schools, communities and that this country needs to move in a new direction," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said at a press conference held Thursday afternoon outside PS 64 in Ozone Park.
The gathering at the school drew nearly every Democratic legislator from throughout Queens.
Mulgrew said the UFT has already thrown money and manpower into each of the Democrats' campaigns and have set up numerous phone banks for Weprin.
"There are 11,000 UFT members in the 9th Congressional District, and we plan to get every one of them," Weprin said.
Mulgrew said the candidates would fight for schools, students and teachers in the city.
"Schools will open next week, and you'll see unprecedented increases in class size and a lack of supplies," Mulgrew said. "These are the things we have to fight against."
Weprin said he would look to increase "federal aid to local schools."
"We need additional classroom space, teachers and supplies," Weprin said. "I'm committed to public education."
Simanowitz also vowed to work on decreasing class sizes, which have been notoriously large in Queens.
"I'm going to make sure kids get the class sizes they need," he said.
Goldfeder said he was thrilled with the endorsement.
"We have the best education system in our country because of the great educators," Goldfeder said. "We need to keep those educators with experience in the classroom."
PS 64 Principal Nina Auster, who noted she wasn't at the press conference as part of the endorsement, said schools need more money.
"We had to cut three teachers this year," Auster said. "I'd like to get our teachers back."