Ladies and gentlemen, the 2014 election cycle is well underway.
Justin Wagner, a Croton-on-Hudson Democrat making his second attempt at taking a seat in the state Senate, is taking issue with the feature speaker scheduled for a Common Core forum hosted by Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, tonight, calling her a “fringe ultra-conservative” and a “grandstanding, extremist ideologue.”
The speaker, Peg Luksik, is a former teacher who has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core, a set of tougher education standards being implemented in New York and more than 40 other states. But Luksik, of Pennsylvania, is well known for seeking public office a number of times in Pennsylvania — most recently in a 2010 primary to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter — and her strong positions against abortion and same-sex marriage, which she once likened to incest.
“The problems with Common Core need to be solved with input from professional educators, parents, and common sense — giving a platform to this grandstanding, extremist ideologue from out of state best known for her repugnant views on social issues isn’t helping, and does nothing to make up for the fact that Senator Ball was nowhere on this issue before it hit the front pages,” Wagner (pictured) said in a statement.
Ball’s office fired back, saying Luksik’s appearance at the forum was recommended by a number of groups and Common Core activists, including Democrats and liberals. She gave a presentation at a Common Core forum in Poughkeepsie at a parent-organized forum earlier this month, as well.
“Wagner can focus on abortion, gay marriage and space aliens, we are focused on helping our kids, teachers and parents deal with the horror of Common Core,” said Ball spokesman Joe Bachmeier.
He continued: “Wagner should cut the political partisan crap and come to the forum, where he may by shear luck actually learn something of value.”
Wagner unsuccessfully challenged Ball in 2012 for the district that includes all of Putnam and parts of Dutchess and Westchester counties. Ball hasn’t officially announced his re-election bid this year, and has been flirted with a potential challenge to Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell this fall.
Ball, meanwhile, took to the airwaves Monday to criticize Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to provide college courses to inmates free of charge, a proposal Cuomo says would cost $5,000 per inmate. The plan has received significant criticism from lawmakers — mostly Republicans, but some Democrats as well — including Ball.
“Help a convict or help a kid?” Ball said on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” “That’s a simple one for me.”