Cathy Guerriero, a Democratic candidate for public advocate, greeted commuters Tuesday morning at the St. George Terminal on Staten Island as they left the ferry that brought them from Manhattan free of charge.
“Don’t forget to vote for Guerriero,” a member of her campaign team shouted repeatedly, taking breaks when all the passengers in the waiting area had gone aboard.
Staten Island may be at the far end of New York harbor, but on primary day, it was a stop for many candidates, like Guerriero and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and their volunteers in a last-minute effort to get votes from residents of New York’s least-populated borough. It’s not surprising that the candidates converged on the ferry terminal: it transports about 70,000 passengers daily according to the Department of Transportation
“I don’t consider Staten Island the dirty little stepchild of the city,” she said. “We have to put Staten Island’s issues squarely in the middle of city court and that’s what my public advocacy is going to do.”
Guerriero, whose family has lived on the island dating back five generations, said she had an ingrained understanding of the issues that concern locals, such as lower toll fees and improved transportation.
“I know things and I know them in my DNA,” she said. “I don’t have to be told that Staten Island’s tolls kill our residents.”
The car that took Guerriero and her staff there was charged at least $10 in toll fees when it crossed the Verrazano Bridge that serves as the main thoroughfare into the borough.
High tolls were certainly on the mind of Omar Dowd, a physician at Staten Island University Hospital, even though he does not make a daily commute to another borough. He said the toll fee was too high and he could not figure out how high fees helped the borough.
“I don’t mind paying higher fees, because of my income,” he said. “I understand them and I agree with them, but I would like more clarity on where exactly they are going.”
Dowd, a registered Democrat, said he voted for Bill de Blasio in the mayoral race. His candidate and members of his campaign team made a visit to the ferry terminal on Tuesday too just like public advocate candidate Guerriero.
When de Blasio arrived at 4 p.m., he shook hands with many potential voters, and many people leaving the ferry paused to take photographs with him and his wife, Chirlane.
Felix Ortiz, an assemblyman in King’s County who endorsed de Blasio and was at the terminal, said he hoped Staten Islanders would help hit the candidate hit the 40 percent mark that is needed to avoid a runoff election, but would accept any outcome.
“If we have a runoff we are ready to rumble tomorrow, first thing in the morning,” he said.
However, Ronald Smith, a registered Democrat and a church deacon, said the large crowds would not sway his vote.
“It’s not so much because somebody has a bigger name brand, or somebody is married to a minority woman,” he said. “Think about it, be wise and first ask yourself what they have done for you.”
Angela Lindo, a public librarian, wasn’t impressed by the visitors either. She said she based her decision to vote on who she felt could provided the bare essentials.
“I just need a raise in public jobs,” she said. “I voted for John Liu even though he stands no chance.”
Liu had support from only 4 percent of likely voters, according to a Quinnipac University poll released on the eve of the elections.