Stop Supporting Toxic Rhetoric on Staten Island
Local and citywide media have been full of scorn for Leticia Remauro, the candidate for Staten Island Borough President caught on camera enthusiastically yelling “Heil Hitler” at a rally in December. She went on to apologize on Twitter for making a “bad analogy” and explained to the Daily News that she meant to yell “Mein Fuhrer.” While these statements might be disqualifying for any candidate, Remauro’s offensive outburst wasn’t an isolated instance. She recently posted a comment on Twitter hoping that Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of the Bronx would become sterile after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Jewish Daily Forward reported that Remauro has a history of using racist and offensive language on social media.
While Remauro’s repugnant behavior has now garnered some media attention, responsibility needs to be shared by her backers and enablers, who just came into view when the City’s Campaign Finance Board updated its donor database last Friday.
Many of Remauro’s 275 donors are influential and familiar figures in Staten Island’s cozy business and political circles, where she has served as the chair of the Staten Island Republic Party, Community Board 1 Chair, and longtime advisor to Representative Nicole Malliotakis and former Representative and District Attorney Dan Donovan.
Remauro’s current supporters include: Representative Nicole Malliotakis’ parents George and Veralia; Donald Cappocia and Joseph Ferrara, the owners of politically connected real estate giant BFC Partners (the developers of the Empire Outlets); the Da Noi and Cargo Cafe restaurant chain owner Edward Gomez (who “bundled” more than $11,000 in contributions for Remauro as an intermediary); and Angela Mirrizi-Olsen, who sits on the board of the Public Hebrew Charter School -- the same board from which Remauro resigned after the Hitler comments were exposed.
To our knowledge, none of these figures or corporations have used their platforms to retract their support for Remauro, nor have they called for her to end her campaign, nor do they appear to have asked for refunds of their donations. This is a problem. This is the problem.
If we’re going to stop it, we need to do more than shame Leticia Remauro on social media.
We need to start holding local political and business leaders accountable for promoting her hateful and divisive rhetoric.
They have associated with and nurtured figures like Remauro for far too long. Our borough and our country deserve better if we are going to come together and heal.
Roxanne Mustafa is a technologist, product designer and local activist on Staten Island who advocates for increased civic engagement in under-represented communities.
Justin Wood is a policy researcher and organizer residing on Staten Island.