STATE RACES
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 24
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

Staten Island.

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS
Take a look at all the latest results for the November 5, 2002 general election.

x-John J. Marchi (Rep) 37,700 - 74 percent
Michael J. Cocozza (Dem) 13,087 - 26 percent

Candidates:

  • Michael Cocozza (Dem/Ind/Wor)
  • John Marchi (Rep) Incumbent


BIOGRAPHIES

Senator John Marchi (Rep) a veteran senator who has served in a variety of leadership posts, is the chairman of the New York State Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions. Marchi was named by Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno as Deputy Majority Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs and served as chairman of the Finance Committee for 18 years as well as sat on the City of New York Committee.

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Michael Cocozza (Dem/Ind/Wor) is the financial secretary of Carpenters Local Union 20 and the president of his local Vietnam Veterans of American chapter.


CAMPAIGN FEATURE

This year, John Marchi is facing his first serious challenge from a Democratic candidate since 1978. The last time there was a competitive State Senate race in this district, Phil Gigante (who would later head up the county Democratic organization) ran against John Marchi and went down to defeat. In previous years, Senator Marchi has been such a strong presence in Staten Island politics that the county Democratic organization has cross-endorsed his candidacy ever since. Marchi is highly regarded by his colleagues in both parties. He acquired a reputation for independence while serving in the State Senate. Marchi was the only Republican who voted against the reinstatement of the death penalty and has also been an advocate of increasing aid to the poor. This habit of breaking with his party has earned him praise from many Democrats such as former state governor Mario Cuomo and former New York City mayor Ed Koch. A veteran legislator who was elected to his first term in 1956 when Eisenhower was President, Marchi has had a long and very interesting career in politics. He has worked with a number of different assembly speakers, senate majority leaders and governors. He was twice a candidate for New York City mayor, once in 1969 and again in 1973. He is also considered the founder of the movement to detach Staten Island from New York City. Truly, Mr. Marchi is one of the giants of New York political history.

Michael Cocozza is hoping to play David to John Marchi's Goliath. Cocozza has been active in local Democratic politics for years. In his younger days, Cocozza fought in the Vietnam War. Once his tour of duty was finished he returned to Staten Island and became involved in local affairs. Currently Mr. Cocozza is the financial secretary for the local carpenters union as well as the president of his local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter. Although in the opinion of many Mr. Cocozza is facing an uphill fight, his campaign states that they believe he has a good chance of winning.

On the issues facing the district, there is some difference between the two candidates. However both candidates also agree on quite a few issues. For example both the Marchi and Cocozza campaigns are against the proposed reopening of the Staten Island landfill, which is located in the district. The Marchi campaign emphasized the fact that the Senator was instrumental in getting the legislation to close the landfill passed. Previously the governor and state legislator resolved to close the Staten Island landfill and instead pay for the export of garbage to other states like Virginia. However, due to the recent fiscal crisis that the city has been facing because of events on 9/11, there has been talk by some of reopening the landfill. The Marchi and Cocozza campaigns also stress their support of reinstating funding for a research study conducted by the College of Staten Island on the carcinogenic effects of the landfill. In addition the two candidates pledge not to vote to raise taxes and proposed further tax cuts that the state government could enact. Cocozza campaign manager George Harington specifically pointed to the clothing and cigarette taxes as taxes that fell disproportionately on the working class residents of the state. Nevertheless the Marchi and Cocozza campaigns expressed support for the reinstatement of the commuter tax. This plan for the restoration of the commuter tax has gained ground since the city's financial difficulties after 9/11. The Cocozza campaign stated its agreement with this proposal without reservation as well its firm opposition to any other tax increases as not necessary. Senator Marchi's office signified some reservation with this and wanted more details on any proposal to reinstate the commuter tax. Both candidates also spoke of the need to reform the drug laws of the state, particularly the elements of the laws concerning mandatory sentences. These laws were passed during the gubernatorial administrations of Nelson Rockefeller. Although Marchi voted for these laws at the time, he explains that back then he thought that they would curb drug use. The Senator admits that the laws have produced many unexpected consequences. Senator Marchi's press secretary Jerry McLaughlin stated, "Senator Marchi takes the position that there needs to be stronger penalties for violent drug offenders and prison alternatives for non-violent offenders".

Education was cited by both campaigns as the most important issue facing the district and the state. "Senator Marchi has an extensive record on education" said Jerry McLaughlin. McLaughlin went on to cite the Senator's pass and present support of initiatives like the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), the State University system as well as the billions of dollars in education aide he has supported in his career. This year Senator Marchi also voted for mayoral control of New York City schools. This is in contrast to the decentralization of school governance the Senator supported earlier in his career. As recently as 1996 the Senator proposed a school governance plan that would have disbanded the city education system and given control of education policy to the borough boards in New York City. Even today Mr. Marchi states that he believes many responsibilities over education should be devolved to the borough level. Although Mr. Marchi does not support school vouchers, he does support some tuition tax credits for middle income families that send their children to private or parochial schools. According to George Harington, Michael Cocozza also supports increased funding for public education. He opposes school vouchers but wants to encourage the development of more charter schools as a way to improve the educational prospects of public school students. He expressed reservations about the new school governance structure and wants the City Council to have a greater say and more oversight over public education in New York City.

John Marchi's office stated that the Senator had been a very effective advocate in his 46 years in the State Senate. Few in Staten Island would disagree with this assessment. Even sources from the Cocozza campaign concurred with this. However they also stated that perhaps the time had come to allow someone new to represent the district. Earlier this year, Cocozza stated how happy he was that the voters of Staten Island will have a real choice for the first time in 22 years.

--posted August 16,2002


7 BILLS IMPORTANT TO NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS THAT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE IS LIKELY TO VOTE ON IN THE NEXT TERM:

1. Rent Regulation: The current rent regulation laws expire in June 2003. Supporters of rent regulation hope that the current provisions will be extended for another five years and that the legislature will repeal the provision which deregulates apartments that rent for $2,000 or more a month. The State Assembly passed such a bill this year, but it died in the Senate in the face of opposition from Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. If the Legislature does not take concerted action in June, rent regulation in New York City will end.

2. Commuter Tax: In 1999, when the State Legislature repealed the Commuter Tax, the city's economy was good. Reinstatement of the Commuter Tax is likely to come up again this Spring as the City's economy takes a turn for the worse.

In 1999 Senator Marchi voted against the repeal of the commuter tax.

3. School Funding: Even with mayoral control of the school system, more than 40 percent of New York City's school funding comes from Albany. Next year's budget will determine how much money New York City's schools will get from the state.

4. Rockefeller drug laws: New York's drug laws, passed in 1973 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, are among the harshest in the nation. The Democratic-controlled Assembly, Republican-controlled Senate, and the Governor have not been able to agree on how to reform these laws, look for renewed negotiations and new legislation in the next term.

5. Minimum Wage: Currently set at $5.15 an hour, Democrats will likely propose raising the minimum wage to $6.75 an hour, a proposal that failed last year.

6. Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act: This has been floating around the New York State Legislature for 30 years, with the Governor's support, it is likely to come up for a vote again next Spring.

7. Campaign Finance Reform: Some 80 organizations have proposed a "Clean Money, Clean Elections" bill for the New York State Legislature. Like the New York City law, it would establish a system under which candidates who comply with limits on campaign spending and contributions would receive public funds for their political campaigns.

HOW OTHER ORGANIZATIONS RANKED SENATOR JOHN MARCHI:

EMPIRE STATE PRIDE AGENDA

Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act

The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act adds actual or perceived sexual orientation to the state's existing laws which prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability or marital status.

Pride Agenda's Position: SUPPORT
John Marchi's Position: OPPOSITION

Hate Crimes Act

The Hate Crimes Act enhances criminal penalties for a long list of crimes in which perpetrators intentionally select a target based on the victim's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. The Hate Crimes Act also requires the state to collect, analyze and annually report on data regarding hate crimes throughout the state.

Pride Agenda's Position: SUPPORT
John Marchi's Position: OPPOSITION

THE BUSINESS COUNCIL OF NEW YORK STATE

Taxable Status of Nuclear-Powered Electrical Generating Facilities Act

This measure establishes that nuclear powered electric generating facilities must pay property tax.

BC of NYS Position: SUPPORT
John Marchi's Position: SUPPORT

Plumbing Standards

This measure creates a new article in labor laws by providing standards for plumbing materials and makes certain plumbing and piping provisions of the state uniform fire prevention and building code.

BC of NYS Position: OPPOSITION
John Marchi's Position: NO VOTE

Eye On Albany 2002 is a guide to the races for the 91 seats of the New York State Legislature that represent residents of New York City.

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