2021 Elections: Who’s running for Staten Island Borough President?

Staten Island Borough President Candidates

There are seven candidates running for Staten Island Borough President, according to the latest campaign finance filings.

The borough president proposes legislation, zoning changes, city-wide budget recommendations, and direction for land-use in the borough. Borough presidents appoint members to the New York City Planning Commission, and members to other local boards.

The candidates include Lorraine Honor, Steven Matteo, Radhakrishna Mohan, Mark Murphy, Leticia Remauro, Brandon Stradford and Cesar Vargas.

We sent all of them a brief list of questions about them and their campaign. Only Murphy did not respond. Here’s what those who got back to us had to say. Their responses have been ended for length and clarity. 

Lorraine Honor

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Lorraine Honor (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business?

Lorraine Honor: Staten Island is known as the “Greenest Borough.” I plan on highlighting these green spaces and creating a “four season plan” so that Staten Islanders and New Yorkers can engage in outdoor activities year around. This means providing access to and information about what is already here, and adding additional programming to enhance it for every season such as utilizing our golf-courses for winter spots. 

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough? 

Honor: Enoteca Maria – Where the cooks rotate daily and are Nonnas from around the world cooking their family recipes; Basilio’s Inn – It used to be a seaside hotel and is the oldest family-run restaurant on the Island; Killmeyer’s-German Beer Garden and Brauts! When are we going; Joes’ Lobster House – I go there after a day at the beach and feel like I’m on vacation; Lakruwana – Sri Lankan. Hot and flavorful and the decor is like getting your passport stamped; Gifted! – It is a woman owned business, like my wine store, that sells gifts on Forest Avenue.

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough?

Honor: 1) Our small businesses and restaurants are in crisis. We must use our influence in Borough Hall to bring attention to the needs of our small businesses and their employees; 2) Our children and parents need educational support especially during and through the pandemic. This ranges from technical support to mental health support. 3) We lack a community health plan and access to the resources that Staten Island needs to properly recover from and deal with COVID.

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president?

Honor: I was a UFT member and public school teacher for 25 years, I am a small business owner who has weathered the ups and downs of owning a main street brick and mortar, and I am a community organizer and activist. All of these experiences ground me in the daily lived experience of the average Staten Islander. As Borough President ,Staten Islanders will not only have an ally and partner in Borough Hall, but one of their own.

Steven Matteo

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Steven Matteo (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business?

Steven Matteo: With its proximity to Manhattan and suburban feel, Staten Island has the best of both worlds. We have top-notch cultural institutions, including the Staten Island Zoo, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, and Conference House Park. We have more acres for parks and recreation than any other borough and amazing restaurants.  

I will highlight our quality of life, attractions, low crime numbers, and attractiveness for people who work remotely and live in safe and affordable communities. We are made up of neighborhoods where neighbors look after each other and there is a sense of community pride.

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough?  

Matteo: Max’s Esca, a restaurant on Richmond Road in my district; La Strada, a restaurant on New Dorp Lane; Alfonos’s Pastry Shoppe on Victory Boulevard; Joyce’s Tavern on Richmond Avenue; Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern on Port Richmond Avenue.

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough?

Matteo: 1) COVID-19 recovery; 2) Economic development; 3) Traffic and transportation.

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president? 

Matteo: I have been a public servant in city government for over 16 years. I know how to get things done even if agencies are not cooperative. This experience is especially important now since we will be in the COVID-19 recovery process for a long time. Staten Island needs an advocate with experience and an acute understanding of how this city works who has a demonstrated record of success. Staten Island has to fight at every step to get agencies to act on our behalf. I am the only candidate with a long record of accomplishment in city government.

Radhakrishna Mohan

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Radhakrishna Mohan (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business in?

Radhakrishna Mohan: We need to make Staten Island a destination, not a forgotten borough. We must be innovative in how we sell Staten Island to people who aren’t familiar with us by creating job opportunities to encourage people to move to the Island and attractions like the Staten Island Wheel to encourage people to visit the Island.

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough?

Mohan: Normally I prefer to go to Gino Pizza restaurant, Oriental Plaza Chinese Restaurant, King’s Arms diner, Al Hamza Pakistani and Taste of India Restaurant. I do go to other diners in Staten Island too, but mostly I visit the above eating places. I used to frequently visit a deli on Bay View Deli for their great sandwiches.

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough?

Mohan: We must handle the effects of the COVID pandemic that have hurt local businesses and their employees. We must tackle transportation issues. Many in our community commute over two hours to get to work. We must implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan, create a fast ferry, reduce the price of tolls and improve ferry times during peak hours. Finally, we must work towards getting a public hospital in Staten Island, and in the short term create community health centers. COVID and the opioid crisis have shown us the importance of healthcare, and the need to support healthcare workers.

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president?

Mohan: I’m a labor union guy, active in my community since I came to Staten Island in 1989. My work engages me with the borough’s problems and gives me insight to solutions.

I’m a representative on the executive board of my Public Employees Federation Union and the Chair of the Workers Compensation Committee. I’m a community board member on the Transportation, Public Services, and Parks Committees and I’m on the Police Precinct Community Council. 

My government experience taught me how to deal with different agencies. Combined with my passion to give back to my community, I believe I’m the better candidate.

Leticia Remauro

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Leticia Remauro (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business in? 

Leticia Remauro: Staten Island is the safest of the boroughs boasting acres of park land and a rich history going back to the Dutch and Lenape Indians. Just a free, 20 minute ferry ride from Manhattan, this charming, suburban community is the “small town of the Big Apple” with single family homes on its south shore; a beachfront community on its east shore; a working waterfront on its west shore and an historic walking community on its north shore. We have the best schools; diverse restaurants; a myriad of cultural institutions, a plethora of shopping, and houses of worship serving every religion. 

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough? 

Remauro: Bricktown Shopping Centre in Charleston and Empire Outlets in St. George give Staten Islanders a reason to shop local; Northwell – Staten Island University Hospital and Richmond University Medical Center keep Staten Islanders healthy and employed; The Nicotra Group has given us hotels and a state of the art corporate park; The Angiuli Group has set the gold standard for responsible development; and Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue (IROAR) has been the voice of our restaurant community throughout the pandemic. All are great examples of Staten Islanders doing great things for their community.

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough? 

Remauro: Our law enforcement community needs our support both fiscally and emotionally as bail reform has made their job more difficult and more dangerous than ever before. We must remove red light and speed cameras that do nothing to increase pedestrian safety and everything to pick the pockets of Staten Islanders. Using revenue collected from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge earmarked to improve public transportation, we must install Smart Traffic Light technology to keep MTA buses and traffic moving and reduce driver frustration. We must correct the property tax formula so that Staten Islanders aren’t shouldering a disproportionate amount of the burden. 

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president?

Remauro: I am an executive who makes tough decisions. I am a small business owner with 20 years in the public sector serving mayors, governors and presidents. I have helped to solve the toughest problems Staten Islanders ever faced from closing the Fresh Kills Landfill to saving Mount Loretto and St. Francis Friary from the bulldozers. I helped to recover lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks and organized volunteers to recover the east shore from the devastation of SuperStorm Sandy. I have real experiences providing real results for Staten Island. I speak up and never give up.

Brandon Stradford

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Brandon Stradford (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business in?

Brandon Stradford: If all goes well with the vaccine, the tourism industry will return to normal soon. I will work to free us of COVID’s spectre with my COVID Zero Initiative and Small Business Rescue Plan.

We have more greenspace than any other borough, but we also have brownfields in need of remediation. I will partner with nonprofits and firms to create sustainable infrastructure, and propose joint ventures with universities and companies to train the next generation.

I will seek out developers to bring investments and infrastructure upgrades to our mid-island and south shore areas, and prioritize transit upgrades.

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough?

Stradford: Enoteca Maria; Lakruwana; Mike’s Diner; Bermuda Inn; Ruddy and Dean; Craft House.

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough?

StradfordCOVID exposed the results of decades of disparate and inadequate healthcare delivery, especially in communities of color. A public hospital is needed. 

Whether it’s developers carving up communities for condos, neglected NYCHA residents, burdensome property taxes and zoning rules, or long commutes, Staten Islanders need a housing and development advocate. I welcome responsible real estate developers, but I will not allow our views and landscapes to be bulldozed and Islanders forgotten.

There are inefficiencies and inequities in our education system. COVID exacerbated these issues and underscored the need for investment. I will find resources and innovations to stay competitive.

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president?

StradfordI believe in expecting better and demanding more from government. My vision invites citizens to aim for a prosperous future, not just government as usual. I am a native Staten Islander, a graduate of Susan Wagner High School, SUNY and CUNY.  I know my borough! For 30 years, I’ve fought against economic injustice for the homeless, formerly incarcerated, immigrants, troubled youth, women, the LGBT community and more. I’m an adjunct professor who instructs students to ‘search for the genesis of public policies’ to understand society. I serve “the least of us” and have remained a steadfast Voice for the Voiceless.   

Cesar Vargas

Staten Island Borough President Candidate Cesar Vargas (photo courtesy of campaign)

PoliticsNY: How do you plan to market your borough as a place to live, work, visit and do business in? 

Cesar Vargas: Staten Island has unlimited potential, but our borough is already a great place to live, work, and do business. I will exhibit our gastronomic delights so that people come back for more. We have remarkable cultural events and sites. Whether it’s our Mexican Independence Day Parade, Snug Harbor’s historical beauty, our annual Greek festival or Rainbow Run, we can be a must-see destination with bold leadership in Borough Hall. I will bring in private and public investments to support local entrepreneurs, and work so larger companies and development can find a home on Staten Island while everyone prospers. 

PoliticsNY: In no particular order, what are your five top restaurants and/or favorite businesses in the borough.

Vargas: Go to immigrant-owned San Jeronimo’s Mexican Restaurant. I recommend their green enchiladas.

The Pizza Parlor serves amazing pizza and my favorite –– the Twisted Hero.

New York Finest Taekwondo is an awesome place to stay fit while finding inner peace. The instructor took over the business during the pandemic and has shown incredible resilience — a lesson she teaches to her students. 

Timeless Design and Construction, a veteran owned and operated company, does quality general contracting work. The owner supports homeless and immigrant veterans, too. 

On the mid-island, Rainbow Pho serves some of the best Vietnamese Pho on Staten Island. 

PoliticsNY: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues facing the borough?

Vargas: Addressing the health and economic crisis is top priority. The virus exposed the lack of preparedness in government, and health inequities in communities of color. I plan to implement a program to reach vulnerable communities and address distrust. 

We need to improve roads and sewer systems, protect wetlands, expand affordable housing and bike and pedestrian access to streets, and modernize transportation and energy grids. My plan will prioritize infrastructure instead of poorly planned development. 

People feel our government is out of touch. I will remind City Hall, Albany, and Washington D.C. that government they must be accountable. 

PoliticsNY: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a borough president?

Vargas: My immigrant story positions me to connect to Staten Island’s diverse communities. Whether your family immigrated 200 or two years ago, we all aspire to the same goals: security, health, prosperity, and the American Dream. I will lift all communities and reach out to communities without a voice in government. I know how to confront crises. During the COVID-19 crisis, I distributed food at food pantries, raised money for struggling restaurants and essential workers, and distributed masks to immigrant workers, police officers, nurses, bus drivers when there was a mask shortage. I will bring bold leadership to Borough Hall. 

 

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