North Shore Council Candidates Share Common Priorities
03/15/2001 02:52 PM
The North Shore of Staten Island is going to see some crucial changes a new ferry terminal, a ballfield for the Yankees farm team and a new City Council member. It's the only part of Staten Island that's run by Democrats, and as Kerri Lyon explains in the following report, three of them are vying for the open seat in District 49.
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Michael McMahon says a pond in his neighborhood was a parking lot before he got his hands on it. Now he wants to give the entire North Shore of Staten Island a makeover.
"Now is a very crucial time for the North Shore because everyone realizes how attractive it is," he says. "We think with the right planning and the right development it can remain a beautiful place."
An attorney, McMahon is counsel to incumbent Jerome O'Donovan. He says he is a family man and a longtime activist in the community with the support of several local Democrats, though not the Democratic organization.
The party is backing Jon Del Giorno, the manager of the City Board of Elections and a onetime City Council staffer.
"Between the three of us, we probably agree on almost every single issue," says Del Giorno. "The big difference is my twenty years of city experience."
But he doesn't have experience on the North Shore, according to McMahon, who claims Del Giorno is a carpetbagger. "He only moved here four or five years ago after he ran in the mid-island and lost," says McMahon.
Del Giorno counter, "I've been heavily involved in this area for a solid five-and-a-half years. I used to live in Granitville, which is right on the borderline of this district and was actually considered part of the North Shore. It was redrawn during the redistricting. So I'm not a carpetbagger."
No one can say Debi Rose doesn't know the district. She's spent twenty-five years as a community activist, school board member and college administrator.
"I've been elected twice. I've been elected to the Democratic national convention with the highest number of votes for that delegate position. I was also elected to the Community Board," says Rose, who is the only African American running in a district where 30% of registered Democrats are black.
The first big issue the candidates may face is whether Staten Island should try again to go off on its own. A secession effort several years ago failed, but some local leaders are predicting the drive to leave New York City will pick up again once a new mayor is in office.
"I was against secession and I'm still against secession," says Rose.
McMahon's position is, "It's something I think is right for Staten Island, and something I support."
Del Giorno rounds out the spectrum, saying he's "still open on the question."
When it comes to the issues, secession is about all they disagree on. The three share the same priorities: building a new school in the area, fighting overdevelopment, and reducing traffic congestion.
The challenge for each candidate is proving he or she is the one who can deliver.
- Kerri Lyon