ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 12, 2018 — Jumping into the April 24 special elections, New York State United Teachers today endorsed Assembly members Shelley Mayer and Luis Sepulveda for state Senate and backed three candidates — Patrick Burke, Harvey Epstein and Ari Espinal — for open Assembly seats.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta praised Sepulveda, who is seeking the 32nd Senate District seat in the Bronx, as a “friend of public education and labor” and said Mayer, who currently represents Yonkers in the state Assembly, is the clear choice to fill the 37th Senate District seat vacated by George Latimer.
“Shelley Mayer knows how to get things done in Albany. She combines a tremendous intellect with the ability to listen and act in the best interests of her community and the entire state,” Pallotta said. “Shelley has been a tireless advocate for public schools and colleges in Westchester County and a lifelong champion of working people. She clearly earned the NYSUT endorsement and we are ready to work hard on her behalf.”
For the 142nd District, which covers West Seneca, Orchard Park and slivers of Lackawanna and Buffalo, Pallotta said Burke, an adjunct professor at Buffalo State and a NYSUT member, emerged as the clear favorite among local leaders.
“As a county legislator and community activist, Patrick Burke has been a fighter for the working people in his district. We see him carrying to Albany that same passion and dedication for doing what’s right,” Pallotta said.
NYSUT is also backing Epstein, a tenants’ rights attorney and community activist, for the 74th Assembly District seat on the Lower East Side vacated by the election of Brian Kavanagh to the state Senate, and Espinal, a top aide to former Assemblyman Francisco Moya, for his open 39th Assembly District seat in Central Queens.
Pallotta said the union’s endorsement carries significant weight. Not only does NYSUT make financial contributions from voluntary donations to help candidates defray the cost of campaigns, Pallotta said the union’s extensive phone bank operation — staffed by volunteer political activists — will make tens of thousands of calls between now and the April 24 special election on behalf of endorsed candidates. NYSUT volunteers will also hand out campaign literature, attend rallies and lead a get-out-the-vote effort at the grassroots level, he added.
“Our members work for — and vote for — those candidates who support the issues they care about, including maintaining quality public schools, colleges and hospitals,” Pallotta said.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.