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Staten Island Week 2013: GOP Split Over Who Could Take Councilman Oddo's Seat

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The race to fill the seat that's being vacated by Staten Island Councilman James Oddo is the most hotly contested seat on the borough. In-fighting in the borough's GOP as well as a Democratic primary have given the candidates a jump start on campaigning. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

The streets of the 50th City Council district, also known as Staten Island's Mid-Island seat, are something of a battlefield these days. For the first time since 1999, the council seat will be open, when current City Councilman James Oddo vacates the office as he is term-limited out and potentially takes a new job as Staten Island borough president.

The race has shown early signs of controversy, as Oddo's hand-picked successor faces a primary against former Borough President Guy Molinari's hand-picked candidate.

"I think the demographics of the district make it the most competitive out of the three," said political analyst Vincent Montalbano.

That competition started last summer, as Molinari endorsed Staten Island GOP leader Lisa Giovinazzo, a lawyer and former NY1 employee. She does not currently live in the district, but says if elected, she will move:

"It's not just working from within a system that's already established; it's thinking outside the box," said Giovinazzo.

Molinari's endorsement came as a slap in the face to Oddo, who says he felt he should have been given extra weight in choosing his replacement because he had served the district for so long. His pick is his long-time chief of staff, Steve Matteo.

"I know who to call, I know how to solve problems. There's not going to be a learning curve on day one," Matteo said.

The mid-island seat has been held by a Republican since 1991, despite the fact that there are more registered Democrats living in the district than registered Republicans.

The borough's Democratic Party chairman, John Gulino, says the in-fighting in the GOP is the perfect time for his party to claim that seat.

"Any divisiveness helps us because they can't agree who their candidate should be, and I think that's going to show at the polls," said Gulino.

The Democratic leader is hoping to use the Republican woes to help his party's candidate, Mendy Mirocznik, a lawyer and community board member.

Mirocznik will face John Mancuso, a lifelong Staten Island resident and former chief of staff to Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, in a Democratic primary.

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