Education Advocate Shows Many Signs He Desires S.I. Assembly Seat
Three months before Election Day, the race between Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island and political new-comer Sam Pirozzolo, a Republican education advocate, is already heating up. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Sam Pirozzolo's signs are everywhere. They have planted all over Staten Island since at least March and the Republican candidate for State Assembly says there's a good reason for that.
"Even though I've been volunteering as the school board president for the last five years, not everybody knows," he said.
Pirozzolo is a small business owner and president of the Staten Island's Community Education Council. He is facing Democratic incumbent Michael Cusick in the mid-Island race for State Assembly.
Pirozzolo takes credit for helping restore school bus service to seventh and eighth graders, as well as helping craft a city-wide plan to remove dangerous PCBs from schools.
Cusick has been in office for 10 years, earning seniority on key assembly committees like transportation and mental health.
The assemblyman is seen by some as a centrist who works well with both parties, passing legislation to create a prescription drug registry and helping work out a deal with the Port Authority to give the borough's residents a break after last year's steep toll increases.
Assemblyman Michael Cusick
"This term, this last session, was a victory for Staten Island," said Cusick.
Pirozzolo is not buying it. He says Cusick voted to raise a number of taxes and that has affected the quality of life on Staten Island.
"Most of the rhetoric that is being put out there is false," Cusick said.
While Cusick does have the advantage of being the incumbent, political analysts say that is by no means a guarantee to victory.
"It's a district where you can't let your guard down. It's just not a safe district," said College of Staten Island political science professor Richard Flanagan. "Cusick's run pretty safe margins in previous elections. This may be a more serious challenge than he's had in the past."
That is just what Pirozzolo is counting on and that is why he says in the coming months ahead of Election Day, Staten Islanders will see a lot more of his signs and a lot more of his face.