Chief-Leader
August 5, 2013

 

Guerriero Gains Enthusiastic Backing Of PBA in Public Advocate Contest

A Fierce Defender of Pensions

By Mark Toor

The Chief-Leader/Michel Friang

‘HANDS OUT OF DAD'S POCKETS’: Public Advocate candidate Cathy Guerriero accepts an endorsement by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association at an Aug. 1 press conference. With PBA President Patrick J. Lynch at her side, she talked about how she understands the need to protect public pensions because her father worked two union jobs. ‘My father purchased into these pensions for 35 years,’ she said. ‘He deferred compensation for 35 years...Keep your hands out of my daddy’s pockets.’

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association endorsed Cathy Guerriero for Public Advocate on Aug. 1, with its president, Patrick J. Lynch, saying that her presentation was so impassioned that the union’s political-education committee not only recommended her but gave her a standing ovation.

Ms. Guerriero, a college professor who was raised in a family of teachers and firefighters, said in an interview after the PBA press conference that municipal unions were flocking to support her candidacy because she vigorously defends their contracts and pensions.

‘Hitching Star to Unions’

“I’m hitching my star onto the unions of New York City,” she said. With her as Public Advocate, she said, “no one’s going to take their pensions or their health care away...

These contracts have to be held harmless.”

By Aug. 1, Ms. Guerriero had been endorsed by about 40 unions, 19 of them for uniformed personnel. She said she was expecting additional endorsements in the coming days.

She started the race at the bottom of the polls, but she cited a Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist College survey taken at the end of June that had her in a statistical tie for the lead with Councilwoman Letitia James. State Sen. Daniel Squadron, former Deputy Public Advocate Reshma Saujani and education advocate Noah Gotbaum are also in the race.

This is her first try for elective office, but, she said, “I’ve been planning this for 20 years.”

‘She Has the Passion’

At the press conference announcing the PBA endorsement, Mr. Lynch said, “She has the passion to believe in the city, believe in the future and understand that this city always needs a check and a balance, and that’s what the Public Advocate does.”

He said he had been involved with the union’s endorsements for 14 years and she was the first candidate to inspire the committee to stand and applaud. “They said we believe that much in this candidate,” he said.

Ms. Guerriero said she was proud to accept the endorsement. “They put their lives on the line and they say ‘my life before yours,’’’ she said of police officers.

She launched into a passionate defense of public-employee pensions, which have come under attack from conservatives and have lost some support among voters. Her father held two full-time union jobs simultaneously: one as a Teacher and one as a longshoreman’s security guard at the Port Authority. “My father purchased into these pensions for 35 years,” she said. “He deferred compensation for 35 years...Keep your hands out of my daddy’s pockets.”

UFA Also Backs Her

The Uniformed Firefighters Association endorsed Ms. Guerriero last week as well.

“This endorsement is as personal as it gets for me,” the candidate said in a statement. “I have family members—past and present—who are part of a proud tradition of serving in the FDNY.”

Ms. Guerriero pledged to “unequivocally oppose” the closing of firehouses, help fix the 911 system, and oppose further staffing reductions.

“If anything, we need to reopen some of the engine and ladder companies that have been shortsightedly shuttered,” she said.

Ms. Guerriero, a fifth-generation Staten Island resident, was raised there and in Brooklyn and now lives on the Lower East Side with her husband and three-year-old daughter. She has been an adjunct professor of education and politics at Columbia and New York Universities. She also serves as a consultant to small businesses and nonprofits. She has also worked for the Archdiocese of New York and for Catholic Charities.