Editor’s Note: Leticia Remauro, the Conservative Party candidate for Staten Island Borough President, sent Staten Islander her responses to a list of issues that we felt were important. The following are her descriptions of the scope of each issue, along with what she plans to do to remedy the problem described.
The election for Staten Island Borough President is tomorrow, November 2nd. James Molinaro, the borough president between 2002 and 2013, was also a Conservative Party candidate, and he was elected by popular vote to three consecutive terms. He was one of only four borough presidents historically to have been elected for three terms.
The other candidates were also contacted, and did not provide a response.
1. Homelessness and Housing:
Mayor de Blasio has presided over an exponential increase in the homeless population in New York City. Thrive NY has been a massive failure and I once again call for an audit so we can begin to unravel where almost $1 billion of unaccounted for money was spent. The programs to combat homelessness have only helped the Mayor’s crony donors. It seems that they Mayor has decided to build as many small and ill equipped homeless shelters as he can all over New York City including Staten Island. I’m proud to have personally paid for a lawsuit against de Blasio’s homeless shelters on Staten Island because they help absolutely no one except his developer friends. They don’t help the homeless because they are too small, they don’t have onsite personnel and counselors for issues such as job placement, mental health, and drug addiction programs. Moreover he is putting them in the middle of one family residential neighborhoods and next to elementary schools.
We need a new multifaceted approach to combat homelessness that focuses on permanent housing solutions instead of warehousing people in various parts of the City. Our elected officials have failed to effectively express their constituents strong opposition to these temporary solutions that harm homeowners as well as the homeless.
2. Drug Addiction The Heroin Crisis:
We need to advocate for treatment and prevention programs. Drugs are very dangerous and that message seems to have been lost on the local level. Moreover, it is simply too easy to get dangerous drugs like heroin. There are now open markets in New York City where police officers are instructed not to intervene if a junkie is shooting up in public view. This sends the wrong message. We need to work with the experts and include law enforcement in an effort to get drug addiction under control on Staten Island where we are losing so many good young people.
3. Quality of Life
As Mayor de Blasio has declared war on the police, it stands to reason that our quality of life is suffering. Law enforcement is not our enemy. It starts with small business groups and civic associations getting together with Law Enforcement and mapping out strategies to combat the declining quality of life. On Staten Island our streets are filthy to an extent we have probably never seen before. Private property is not respected. There is a culture of lawlessness. As your Borough President, I will no longer tolerate these attitudes. I will bring law enforcement and local community organizations to work together to improve quality of life and safety in our neighborhoods. I will fight to make sure we have the funds to keep our streets clean.
4. Taxes on residents:
If Staten Island and the rest of New York City is to make the dramatic comeback that we are all hoping for then we need to lower taxes across the board, and in particular property taxes. We have the most unfair property tax system in the state where owners of multi-million dollar mansions in other parts of the City are paying less in property taxes than families in middle class neighborhoods all over Staten Island. This is outrageous and must end immediately; the system needs to change. But we have the worst Mayor New York City has ever had who is happy to keep this system in place and politicians are too afraid to confront him meaningfully. As your Borough President this will not be tolerated. The future of a bright and prosperous Staten Island depends on a fairer property tax system providing relief to middle class families and I will not rest until we change the current formula.
I’m proud to have been endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters in past elections. We have to get tough on serial polluters who flout our laws and close loopholes that allow irresponsible business owners to put us in jeopardy. We need to encourage the use of sustainable and renewable energy. We also should mandate environmentally friendly building components for any development needing a variance or BSA approval. This will reduce the negative environmental impact of construction on the site
6. Balancing Development with Conservation:
Staten Island needs a comprehensive, island-wide zoning analysis with the goal of preserving neighborhoods and providing the foundation for property values to increase, identify parcels along the transportation corridor on the east, north and west shoreline where multi-story residential buildings to house our senior and young population can occur and where manufacturing entities (job creators) can locate near to bridges for ease of product transportation. Comprehensive rezoning can allow Staten Island to retain its bucolic charm while also creating economic corridors that take advantage of America’s new focus on manufacturing at home. Comprehensive rezoning will also reduce traffic congestion, stabilize property values, and help stem the rise of property taxes.
7.Civil Rights and Equality:
I’m proud to have fought for civil rights my whole adult life including alongside the NAACP. We need to make clear by words, thoughts, and deeds that racism and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated. We need to continue to work to root out racism and institutional and systemic biases and inequality in our society. Individual rights in our control are sacred and must be upheld and respected. I’m proud to be fighting Bill de Blasio’s Key To NYC vaccine passport which prohibits large portions of minority communities from participating and working in society.
8. Animal Rights/Cruelty
We need to expand rescue services for abused animals and organizations that can place them with loving families. We need to engage the City about ending kill policies and I’d like to explore even harsher punishments for those who abuse animals.
We need to work on helping people stay on Staten Island. Too many seniors and young families who love it here have to leave and move to another state because they can’t afford to live here. As I’ve said before I will make sure that the Mayor passes a more equitable property tax formula to bring relief to middle class families. We also have to be smarter about development, we must protect one family homes and neighborhood character, but there are places where we can build more affordable senior housing and should.
New York City’s public education system is no longer serving the needs of students. Rather than focusing on skills that will prepare students to become accomplished adults, the NYC DOE is concentrating efforts on social programs which are subjective and fail to provide basic life coping skills. We need to create more Vocational High Schools that teach practical and trade skills that can be used for government and private sector jobs such as: road repair, carpentry, auto mechanic, plumbing, electrical, commercial driving (bus), administration, child development, senior services, energy etc. These studies can be enhanced by partnering with private and municipal unions which can provide apprenticeships which will lead to job placements.
We need to focus on basic skills such as: Reading, math, cursive writing, spelling, household economics, proper keyboard use and digital application training; Ensure special needs students receive proper skill services, college prep courses, daily living skills, communication, socialization and job training skills. and we need more support for specialized, Charter, Parochial schools and Yeshivas.
Our local economy has been devastated by recession due to the Covid pandemic and the ill-advised draconian lock downs as well as the ridiculous mandates set forth by Bill de Blasio. I have been fighting for small business relief as well as the rights of those affected by the mandates. Our small businesses need tax relief now; they also need regulatory relief and access to small business loans. This current Mayor has made sure that inspectors bombard their businesses on almost a daily basis, and I will work to make sure that stops. We need to have economic empowerment zones and small business districts to connect small business owners with access to capital and new technology and workers. We also need to attract new types of businesses that will provide high paying jobs. The West Shore is ideal for developing high paying manufacturing jobs especially in pharmaceuticals. I will also work to bring in technology companies to Staten Island that will provide good paying jobs and benefits to employees.
Staten Islanders have the longest work commute in the nation. We are the only borough in New York City without a subway; our mass transit options are: buses which travel along crowded roads; a single ferry traveling from the North Shore of the Island to Manhattan, and an elevated train that travels in a straight line from the southern tip of the island to the ferry. In addition, Staten Islanders can not leave the Island by car without paying a toll ranging from $5.50 to $19 depending on the bridge and the time of crossing; our roads are in severe disrepair due to the amount of daily traffic on the roads and the City’s lack of resources for Staten Island; Speed, bus lane, and red light cameras are scattered across the island making Staten Islanders ample targets for additional revenue generated for New York City. Since Staten Island is the only borough not served by a subway system, installing Smart light technology, at every intersection is warranted. Smart Light technology uses computerized systems to sense traffic in real time and changes the timing of the lights to keep traffic flowing along major thoroughfares while holding back traffic on feeder streets until the roadway is clear. The utilization of Smart Light technology reduces driver anxiety which reduces speeding and the running of red lights and traffic accidents while increasing pedestrian safety.
Funding for Smart Light technology can be taken from a portion of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge tolls which are earmarked for mass transit improvements. Since Staten Island’s mass transit is majority surface bus, Smart Light installation falls within that scope of spending.
Other Transit initiatives:
- Pedestrian walkway and bike-way over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge;
- Dedicated bus lane along Bay Street and Richmond Terrace going over the Goethals Bridge in each direction.
- NYC Ferry service from the East and South Shore.
Why I’m running:
I am running because I love Staten Island. I have lived here most of my life and served proudly as a volunteer and a high level member of the Pataki, Giuliani, and Bloomberg administrations. I am proud to have fought to bring vital programs to Staten Island as well as new businesses that have made Staten Island a better place to live. At the same time, I have been a fierce opponent of Mayor de Blasio’s attempts to destroy the quality of life on Staten Island. My one and only focus will be to fight for all Staten Islanders and to make Staten Island a safer, better place to live and work. I hope that you will entrust me with your vote.