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North Shore Democratic Leader to Run Against Oddo for Staten Island BP

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 25, 2017 9:28am
 Tom Shcherbenko, district leader for the Staten Island Democratic Party and a retired teacher, was nominated to run for Borough President against James Oddo.
Tom Shcherbenko, district leader for the Staten Island Democratic Party and a retired teacher, was nominated to run for Borough President against James Oddo.
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Courtesy of Tom Shcherbenko

STATEN ISLAND — A North Shore Democratic leader will run against James Oddo for borough president in November.

The borough's Democratic party officially nominated Tom Shcherbenko, a former computer programmer and retired teacher, Monday night in the borough president race against Republican incumbent Oddo.

"We're called the forgotten borough, but I'm more concerned about the forgotten people in the forgotten borough," Shcherbenko told DNAinfo New York. "The West African immigrants who are terrified of being deported, the small business owners in Port Richmond who have been losing customers over the last few months."

And while the borough has had several uncontested elections in past years, the Democratic party nominated medical marijuana advocate Dylan Schwartz to run against Joe Borelli for the South Shore City Council seat and retired engineer Rich Florentino to run against Steven Matteo in the Mid-Island Council district.

The party also gave its backing in the North Shore City Council seat to incumbent Debi Rose, who's facing primary challenges from community activist Kamillah Hanks and Bernie Sanders-inspired candidate Phil Marius.

Shcherbenko — district leader for the Democratic party — said if he's elected he'll try to fight for people and neighborhoods he feels Borough Hall has ignored around Staten Island, like small business owners in St. George who have long complained about illegal placard parking.

"Too many of my neighbors feel that they're not getting answers from Borough Hall, they feel like they've being brushed off," said Shcherbenko. "[Oddo's] got to see all of Staten Island as his constituency and start dealing with problems."

To bring his vision to Borough Hall, Shcherbenko faces an uphill battle against Oddo, who polls as one of the most popular elected officials in the borough, as well as possible competition from disgraced Republican congressman Michael Grimm.

And even though there are 47,954 more registered Democrats in the borough, the office of borough president has been held by a Republican since Guy Molinari was elected in 1990.

However, Shcherbenko — a former Bernie Sanders delegate — said since President Donald Trump took office, there has been a groundswell of support for local Democratic parties which he hopes could get him into Borough Hall.

"It's amazing how energized Democrats are now," said Shcherbenko. "There's a feeling around the country of excitement in these small elections."