Stavisky wins support from teacher’s union

By Alex Robinson

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) scored a number of teachers’ union endorsements last week in her re-election bid.

The United Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers and the Professional Staff Congress endorsed the seven-term senator and former teacher Friday afternoon.

“As a former public school teacher, Toby Stavisky understands and respects the vital work our members do every day on behalf of all New Yorkers,” NYSUT President Karen Magee said at Stavisky’s campaign headquarters. “Her legislative service is distinguished by strong support for public schools, higher education and labor — a stellar record that earned her an early and enthusiastic endorsement by NYSUT.”

NYSUT is an umbrella organization for UFT and the Professional Staff Congress, which represents more than 140,000 teachers in New York City.

“As a former high school teacher who has seen city classrooms firsthand, I am honored to have received the endorsement of NYSUT, the UFT and PSC,” Stavisky said. “The future of New York City, and the future of Queens, depends on the education students receive today. I look forward to continuing my work to strengthen schools all across New York.”

Stavisky is facing a primary challenge from S.J. Jung, a Flushing businessman and activist who is the former president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. Jung, who has declined to criticize Stavisky, has contended District 16 needs new leadership to pass campaign finance reform, the Dream Act and other progressive pieces of legislation.

The challenger has not sought endorsement from the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of five Democrats who control the Senate with Republicans, according to a spokesman for Jung’s campaign.

Stavisky’s primary opponent from 2012, John Messer, announced last week he would not jump in this year’s primary for personal and business reasons.

“While I have struggled over this decision to postpone my personal political aspirations, my wife Wing Yee “Wendy” Hui and I are committed to the community,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to serve the community and to support and encourage neighborhood programs and initiatives.”

Messer, an Oakland Gardens attorney currently working on renewable energy projects, ran in primary bids against Stavisky in 2010 and 2012.

The district, more than half Asian, includes parts of Flushing, Oakland Gardens, Elmhurst, Whitestone, Rego Park and Forest Hills.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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