John Marchi, 1921-2009


John Marchi, longtime state senator from Staten Island and two-time Republican mayoral candidate, died Saturday while vacationing in Italy. Marchi was first elected to the state senate in 1956 and retired in 2006. He chaired the state senate’s finance committee during New York’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s and, in the words of Room Eight’s Gatemouth, “helped save the city from bankruptcy.” After the city’s Board of Estimate was ruled unconstitutional in 1989, removing borough presidents from budgetary process and thus reducing Staten Island’s power considerably, Marchi agitated for the borough’s secession from the city, and in 1993 managed to get a referendum passed to establish a Charter Commission for Staten Island; the state legislature didn’t go along, but the concurrent election of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who promised to end dumping at Fresh Kills and remove the fare on the Staten Island Ferry, cooled the secessionist ardor. Marchi opposed the Mayor sometimes, though, most notably in sponsoring a law to make it easier for CUNY students receiving public assistance, whom the Administration forced to meet workfare requirements, to find employment on or near their campuses. (Giuliani ignored the law.) Mayor Bloomberg eulogized Marchi “one of the true giants of our public life” who represented “not just the interests of the people of Staten Island, but also their courage, and their patriotism.” Photo via the Clean Ocean and Shore Trust.