Opinion: In praise of Roy Goodman

Submitted By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Thinking of Senator Roy Goodman makes me smile. This in spite of the sadness I feel at his passing at age 84.

Roy Goodman was truly the last of his kind. A New York State Republican with moderate social leanings and a sense of humor! He was exceedingly intelligent, funny and ready with a wry quip. He was always a gentleman and interested in getting things done for this community more than grandstanding. He was my partner in the state legislature for 25 years of his 34 years in the State Senate. He was a great storyteller and was known to break out in song at political functions or social gatherings.

But what I remember most about Roy Goodman was the serious work we did together. Although He a Republican and I a Democrat we worked cooperatively in common purpose for all but a few weeks before an election. Then we pursued our partisan battles. But when the smoke cleared from the campaign season, we were back to work attending to our shared responsibility… the community of Manhattan’s East Side.

Roy Goodman’s efforts and imprints are permanent. They survive his life. If you need a tranquil moment take a walk along the East River water front park called Stuy Cove. The gargantuan luxury housing towers that were proposed for that very same location would have blighted this community. But they never were built, in part because of Roy Goodman’s efforts. Instead we have a wonderful open airy space to enjoy and find rest and relaxation instead of dense fortress like buildings blocking out sunlight. We can enjoy the natural beauty and contours of the shoreline and its magnificent view. When you stroll along the way, occasionally think of Roy Goodman.

Even though rents are high (too damn high!), for the most part they are still 35 percent lower than comparable apartments to our west and north. The reason is that Roy Goodman fought to have our entire Stuyvesant Town and Peter Copper Village community protected under rent stabilization back in 1974 when all rental property had been de-regulated. And he fought to maintain rent stabilization against the continuous assaults of the big real estate interests. Thank you Roy Goodman.

Understanding that a city is more than brick and mortar, Roy Goodman was the State’s leading proponent of funding for the arts. Much of the beauty and exhibits that we enjoy in museums and other places are due to his tireless efforts.

Although his political party turned to the right and opposed reproductive rights for women and civil rights for gays and lesbian citizens, Roy Goodman fought for the causes of women’s rights, civil rights and civil liberties for all. He did so against the rising tide of bigotry. To his credit never flinched or wavered in the face of political pressure to look away. Roy Goodman set his sights on justice.

I was privileged to have served in government with him, and to have him consider me his friend. Like Frank Capra’s fictional character George Bailey, for Roy Goodman it was a wonderful life!

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