STATEN ISLAND — The race is on to name the two remaining Staten Island ferry boats after a host of New Yorkers.
Months after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city had decided to name the first of the three new boats set to run between Staten Island and Manhattan after New Dorp resident Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, who died shielding a Polish soldier he didn't know from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan — three separate pushes have begun to name the other two boats, expected to set sail in 2019 and early 2020.
The first campaign is seeking to recognize Edward del Pino, a retired NYPD officer who subdued a crazed man who killed two on a murderous rampage aboard the ferry in 1986.
The second is to honor NYPD detectives Rodney J. Andrews and James V. Nemorin, who were killed during an undercover gun bust in 2003.
The last is to a push to honor former Richmond County Clerk Mario J. Esposito and his wife Angelina J. Esposito.
Kamillah Hanks, who started a petition last week on the 13th anniversary of Andrews' and Nemorin's death, said she believes that naming a boat after the African-American officers would be a boost for those who ride the ferry.
"I know how significant it is to have police officers of color in neighborhoods, the fact that they were murdered is just unspeakable," Hanks said. "Sailing across the water having their names there would be such a point of pride for people."
Hanks, a lifelong Stapleton resident and president and CEO of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, drew nearly 1,350 signatures to her petition within a week of its creation.
"I said to myself, 'Wow what about those police officers that were murdered in Stapleton, because they don’t even have a street named after them?" said Hanks, "I think that it's time that we really recognize these two men."
In 2003, Andrews and Nemorin were gunned down by Ronell Wilson during an undercover sting operation in Stapleton.
Wilson was sentenced to death for the murders in 2007, but a judge ruled on Tuesday that he will not be executed because he's considered to be intellectually disabled, the New York Times reported.
Last month, the grandson of del Pino started a push to name a ferry after him and got about 800 signatures on a petition.
"It just seems fitting. This year is the 30th anniversary," said Dan del Pino, 28, an NYPD officer himself. "Who better to have a boat named after him than the protector of the ship?"
Del Pino said he didn't hear about his grandfather's heroics until after his death in 1998, when he saw obituaries that mentioned how he disarmed the man on the ferry boat and kept him down by gunpoint until the ship docked and he could be arrested.
"He was a very humble person so he didn’t want any special recognition," said del Pino, who previously pushed unsuccessfully to get a plaque for his grandfather in the terminal.
"As humble as he was about it, it's still something to be remembered."
Del Pino said he hoped the city would set a theme with the namings.
"Maybe this will be like the hero class of ships as opposed to another politician," he said.
Mario Esposito Jr. first started a push in 2013 to name a boat after his father when he first read about the city's plans to replace the boats. He restarted it again recently, adding his mother who helped his dad with his volunteer work.
"They worked as a good team together," said Esposito, 43, a paralegal for the district attorney's office. "I thought they would be a good role model for families that ride the ferry boat."
His father, who passed away in 2001, served as a county clerk in the borough for almost 18 years, worked with a number of charitable and community organizations and was the president and founding member of the American Parkinson's Disease Association.
With the announcement of the Ollis boat, Esposito Jr. restarted his efforts and decided to add his mother, a public school teacher in the borough who volunteered at various organizations and passed away in 2008.
"From the beginning she worked with my father's initiatives, she was always behind the scene volunteering," Esposito Jr. said. "She really gave a lot to the community."
While Esposito Jr. knows it'll be hard to get the boat named after his parents, especially since they stayed out of the spotlight with their work, he thinks it's worth the effort.
"They never asked for anything in return, they would’ve been honored, they would’ve been touched beyond belief to even be considered for it," Esposito Jr. said.
"It is worth the fight because they went above and beyond for the community and they're good role models."