Challenger Fights Staten Island Beep Over Lighthouse, Fish; Rudy Leaps In (Updated)

To our surprise, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro has a challenger in this year's race, Democrat John Luisi, who has not only collected expected labor endorsements but also the backing of the local Independence Party, the Lenora Funlani org which has also endorsed Mayor Bloomberg and received a quarter million dollars from him. (Update: Not so! Despite the Advance report, Molinaro, not Luisi, is endorsed by the Independence Party.)

Luisi gets a bit of press in the Staten Island Advance today, arguing with the current Beep over the slow restoration of the National Lighthouse Museum in St. George. Luisi argues that the Museum should be fast-tracked to draw tourism to the Island, an issue of some concern. Molinaro responds that Luisi is "the least-informed person I've ever seen run for any office at any time of my life."

Despite his gift for repartee, Molinaro has refused to debate Luisi, even when personally challenged by the candidate ("Why should I debate you? I don't have to debate you")...

Luisi instead has debated the executive director of the Staten Island Zoo over the condition of the fish at the Ferry Terminal, 90 percent of whom died in one year. This exchange of ideas, alas, was less than edifying. "Fish die from stress if they're exposed to light 24 hours a day," said Luisi. "Fish don't die from the light. It's not true," said the director. "Yes, it is," said Luisi; "No, it's not," rejoined the director.

Luisi has had to content himself with such exchanges and participation in non-confrontational candidates' forums. Molinaro today enjoys the campaign support of Rudolph Giuliani , who accompanies him on a tour of senior centers and clubs. The former Mayor had earlier in his whirlwind of political appearances called for Jersey third-party candidate Chris Daggett to withdraw and assailed Governor John Corzine's tendency to "cave in to special interests," and told orthodox Jews in Brooklyn that a Thompson mayoralty would bring back to New York "the fear of going out at night and walking the streets."


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