Sam Pirozzolo, the president of Staten Island’s community education council, is on the attack in his recently-launched campaign against Staten Island Assemblyman Michael Cusick, accusing the Democrat of ignoring Port Authority toll increases, a proposed waste-to-energy facility and the lack of a rail connection to the rest of the city.
“He’s very reactionary, as far as after something happens then we see him say, ‘That should not have happened,’” said Pirozzolo, a Republican. “So I feel like he pretty much has become Albany. He’s gotten very comfortable, and he’s not doing the work for his constituents that he could be doing or should be doing.”
But Cusick, the five-term mid-Island assemblyman, insisted that Pirozzolo doesn’t have all his facts straight.
Cusick said he has pledged to block the Bloomberg administration’s potential siting of a waste-to-energy facility on the island, and that he has worked with Republicans on a bus link to light rail in New Jersey as an alternative transit connection to Manhattan in tough financial times.
He also pointed to his efforts in an ongoing, bipartisan campaign to roll back the Port Authority’s controversial bridge toll hikes.
“On the Port Authority issue, I’ve been working every day to get a resident discount,” Cusick said. “We’ve got a discount that they weren’t going to put in and quite frankly it was a start, but it wasn’t good enough. We’re still in negotiations and talks with the Port Authority and both governor’s offices to get a rollback of the toll increases.”
Pirozzolo, an optician who owns an eye care office in Queens, was endorsed by Republican Rep. Michael Grimm and former Borough President Guy Molinari at his campaign kickoff on Saturday.
He said expects to land the backing of the borough’s Republican Party, which has redoubled its efforts to run candidates against every elected Democratic incumbent.
But Pirozzolo will face an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic 63rd Assembly District.
Since first winning office in 2002, Cusick has easily won re-election every cycle. As of January, he had more than $70,000 in campaign funds on hand, and he is likely to once again secure the Conservative Party’s backing, which could prove decisive in a close race.
“He’s won the reelection fairly easily in the past, but I don’t really think he’s had an opponent – he certainly has never had an opponent like me,” Pirozzolo said. “I’m also a native Staten Islander. I’m very in tune to parents’ concerns and issues as being president of the school board. I bring results to people.”
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