The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Four Candidates Face Off in Staten Island's Mid-Island Primary

By Nicholas Rizzi | September 10, 2013 8:30am
 The four candidates weighed in on their first issue to tackle and Hurricane Sandy relief.
Mid-Island City Council Primary race
View Full Caption

STATEN ISLAND — With Staten Islanders heading to the polls for primary day on Tuesday, no local race has been as hotly contested as the Mid-Island City Council seat.

Two candidates from each party will be vying to take over outgoing Councilman James Oddo’s seat in November.

On the Republican side, attorney and mediator Lisa Giovinazzo will run against Steven Matteo, chief of staff for Oddo.

If elected, Matteo said the first thing to tackle would be continuing the Sandy recovery for residents who lost their homes. 

“Hurricane Sandy devastated many communities in the district and its effects continue to be felt,” he said. “We have a responsibility and obligation to help make these communities whole again, and to ensure their future safety and security.”

Matteo said to help homeowners bounce back, he would continue his work to make the city’s building process easier to navigate, and would try to create a redevelopment plan to buy out homeowners in hard-hit areas, but give them the right to return if new, safer, houses are built.

Giovinazzo did not respond to requests for comment, but previously told Decide NYC she would work to improve the borough's deteriorating quality of life.

For example, she would work to lower the $15 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, which she said prevents residents' relatives from visiting the island.

“I knock on doors and senior citizens tell me that their son used to come by every weekend, and now he comes only once a month,” she told the website.

As for Sandy, Giovinazzo told Decide NYC she was appalled that very little has been done to help residents who have to pay mortgages on homes damaged in the storm.

“I have no idea why we're not offering victims property abatements to utilize tax rebates and lift their homes. It’s a significant expense,” she said.

The two candidates have attacked each other heavily in the media and through advertisements, starting when Giovinazzo rallied against affordable housing coming to the Mid-Island, though none is planned for the area.

"Affordable housing is low-incoming housing,” she told NY1. “You can Google it. You can define it.”

Matteo responded that the housing would help middle class families, and put out ads criticizing Giovinazzo for not living in the district and donating money to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee, run by Sheldon Silver, in 2011.

For her part, Giovinazzo recently criticized Matteo online for his plan to bring an asphalt plant to Travis, saying it would expose “Staten Islanders to tons of cancer-causing emissions.”

On the Democratic side of the primary, the race between John Mancuso and Mendy Mirocznik has been less aggressive.

Mirocznik, a long-time court attorney to an acting New York Supreme Court justice, Community Board 2 member, and president of the Council of Jewish Organizations for Staten Island, said his main goal if elected would be to help homeowners and small business owners.

"Homeowners are being crushed by water bill hikes, property taxes and the bridge tolls,” he said. “They feel that there is no one on their side and that government is standing in the way of their family's success."

He said he would work for more oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection and water board, find a solution to the bridge toll, and make it easier for small businesses to thrive in the borough.

Mancuso, an auxiliary police office, youth minister, former small business owner, and former chief of staff for Councilman Vincent Gentile, said he would first make sure every homeowner affected by Sandy returns.

“The No. 1 issue is making sure that all Sandy victims get back into the homes,” he said. “That's the biggest issue [facing] our neighborhood.”

To help the recovery efforts, Mancuso said the city government needs to reach out to residents to make sure they fill out paperwork correctly.

He also said that better protection methods need to be put in place, and that the berms built for New Dorp Beach and Midland Beach weren’t strong enough.

"The berms that they built aren't going to do much, they're going to be washed away,” he said. "I could've given 100 kindergartners plastic shovels and they could have built a better berm."

He said he would work to extend the boardwalk all the way across the shore to Oakwood Beach, and build a seawall in front of it.

On Sandy recovery, Mirocznik said he would first address the issues of mold and confusing regulations for homeowners, then prepare for the possibility of another storm. He said the city would need to put power lines in the borough underground and upgrade communications infrastructure to help Staten Island.

"We need to prepare for the next Hurricane and I don't think we've done nearly enough — if anything — to prepare," he said. "Something as simple as the construction of earthen berms around the Bluebelt systems from Fort Wadsworth to Great Kills could save lives."