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Manhattan Assemblyman Faces Challenge from Teacher and the Union

A government studies teacher at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan is making his first run for elective office by taking on an incumbent who angered the teachers' union. Twenty-year veteran teacher Gregg Lundahl says he entered the Democratic primary because East Side Assemblyman Jonathan Bing introduced a bill this year to get rid of the "last hired, first fired" policy in the event of teacher layoffs.

“It would have taken out perfectly great teachers out of the system because they cost too much in lean economic times,” says Lundahl. 

But Bing says he introduced the bill because a disproportionate number of new teachers would have lost their jobs in his district had the layoffs gone through.

“Under the governor's original proposal, under last in first out, District 2, which I represent, would lose 19 percent of its teachers while other districts in New York City would only lose 5 percent,” says Bing. The assemblyman says he has no regrets about acting in the interests of his constituents.

But Luhdahl says Bing could have tried harder to find money to help the schools before resorting to a plan to let go of experienced teachers. If elected, Lundahl says he would also stand up to budget cuts at the MTA.

Bing has raised almost $600,000 according to filings with the state Board of Elections, which is more than 10 times what Lundahl has raised. But the challenger is counting on his union to help get out the vote on September 14.