Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I,Ref-Brooklyn, Staten Island) held a press conference announcing legislation that would give the mayor one additional appointment on the MTA Board and require that each of the mayor’s five appointments represent a different borough to ensure they are all represented equally. Last week, Malliotakis wrote to Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio expressing disappointment that a member residing in Staten Island was replaced before his term ended with a non-Staten Islander.

“It is critical that each of the 12 counties within the MTA service territory is represented to advocate for each county’s unique needs. Currently there is no representative from Staten Island and that is unacceptable. Staten Island deserves a resident on the MTA Board as we historically always have held a seat. To fix this we are proposing that the mayor of New York City receive an additional appointment and require that each of his or her five appointments reflect the five boroughs of our city. This would ensure that all of New York City’s boroughs are represented just like the seven counties outside of New York City are,” said Malliotakis.

Due to a recent change on the MTA Board, Staten Island is now the only MTA territory out of the 12 without a voice. Historically, Staten Island has relied on the governor for its appointment, but now with its representative removed they do not have a voice at the table. Without a board member from Staten Island, no one will be able to effectively represent the community. This legislation will not only reassure that Staten Island’s needs are protected, but it will reassure that this issue never occurs again by requiring a representative for every borough on the MTA Board to voice concerns and protect their MTA territory.

Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island): “This is common-sense legislation to ensure that each of New York City’s boroughs is fairly represented when the MTA Board meets to set policy and pricing. Dating back more than twenty five years, Staten Islanders have maintained a voting presence on the MTA Board. In fact, a 1991 state law indicates that the governor and mayor should work together, ‘to ensure that each county within the city of New York is represented on [the MTA] Board.’ Given Staten Island’s current standing, with no resident currently serving as an MTA Board representative, this new legislation is necessary. We must ensure that Staten Island is not left behind.”

Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island): “I find it ridiculous that Gov. Cuomo would remove Staten Island’s only representative on the board of the MTA, especially at a time when an increasing number of Staten Islanders feel they are being nickel and dimed every which way with little say in the matter to begin with. This legislation would ensure Staten Island has a constant voice on the MTA Board and I look forward to working with Assemblywoman Malliotakis to pass it.”

Allen Cappelli, SI resident and former MTA Board member: “It’s hard to imagine what the governor is thinking, or rather not thinking. In this day and age to remove the eyes and ears of a community that is already a transportation desert with 500,000 residents is a shocking omission. There are projects we have been fighting for funding for 20 years or more and having someone on the board is critical to finally getting things built.”

Linda Baran, President of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce: “Staten Island is tremendously impacted by transportation issues, which is why we deserve a seat at the table. As a community we struggle to attract employees and continue to face higher costs for running businesses due to a lack of reliable and affordable transportation options. All five boroughs are at the core of transportation in this city and deserve to have their voices heard.”

Danny Cassella, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union 726: “Staten Island is already so underserved when it comes to mass transit that taking away our representative on the MTA Board makes absolutely no sense at all. I feel we will only be more neglected without someone to speak up for us.”