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Bernie-Inspired City Council Candidate Officially Enters North Shore Race

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 17, 2017 9:51am
 Stapleton resident Phil Marius, 26, is running for the North Shore's City Council seat and hopes to bring progressive politics to the district.
Stapleton resident Phil Marius, 26, is running for the North Shore's City Council seat and hopes to bring progressive politics to the district.
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Facebook/Phil Marius for New York City Council

STATEN ISLAND — A progressive candidate inspired by Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign officially filed to run for North Shore's City Council seat.

Phil Marius, 26, of Stapleton, filed his first campaign donation disclosure form this week to become the second challenger against Debi Rose for the 49th Council district's Democratic primary in November.

Marius —who previously worked as a legislative assistant from 2015 for then-State Sen. Bill Perkins until Perkins was elected to the council — said he was inspired to run as a result of Sanders' campaign and hoped to fight for long-term residents as millions dollar projects like the New York Wheel come to the area.

"While many of the economic elites on the North Shore have been celebrating the development that's happening here, calling it the 'North Shore renaissance,' on the streets, people are grieving," Marius said. "People are afraid of being pushed out of their homes, their places of small business."

Marius' family moved to New York from Haiti and he was born in Forest Hills. They moved to Stapleton in 2004 where he said progressive topics like income inequality were regular dinner table conversations.

"I've always had a progressive vision for Staten Island," he said.

If elected, he plans to fight for higher wages and better transportation in the district. He also would push for a new tax bracket for the richest New Yorkers to help fund things like new school to address overcrowding.

However, to bring his progressive policies to City Hall, he'll have to contend with popular incumbent Rose, who's seeking her third term, and community activist Kamillah Hanks in the Nov. 7 primary.

Hanks currently leads the race with donations, getting $46,419 compared to Rose's $40,181 and Marius' $1,160, according to Campaign Finance records.

"I am confident that this latest filing will show the strength that is behind my campaign as I continue to move forward in my candidacy for City Council," Hanks said in a statement.

"In my outreach, I have built a broad coalition of North Shore supporters who share my vision to focus on the qualities that make this district unique and finding ways to connect each community."

A spokesman for Rose criticized Hanks' campaign spending and said Rose has been more careful in the way she uses the funds.

"While the Deputy Majority Leader has been engaging with her constituents, encouraging them to be involved in the participatory budgeting process, Ms. Hanks has been collecting and spending other people's money at a rate three times of ours which may make someone wonder what she will do if elected to the City Council," Bob Olivari, spokesman for Rose's campaign, said in a statement.

"Deputy Majority Leader Rose takes pride in the fact that she is supported by the many working men and women in her district and takes care in the way their donations are spent."

Despite the crowded field and facing an incumbent, Marius said he couldn't wait until next election to run.

"For anybody who's comfortable, who's not grieving, it makes sense to wait," he said. "For a population who needs to make their rent next week, decent transportation access this week, we cannot wait. And that is why I decided to run for City Council this year."