Staten Island Advance endorses James Oddo for borough president

Because of term limits, James Oddo, with 14-plus years of outstanding service behind him, is prohibited from running for the City Council in his beloved Mid-Island district again this year.

No matter. The people in his old 51st District and all over Staten Island, for that matter, can elect him to serve them as the next borough president of Staten Island.

We urge them to do just that on Tuesday. Yes, voters do have a choice in this race: Party stalwart Lou Liedy is the Democratic candidate. That’s as it should be.

But for many residents of this borough who have witnessed Mr. Oddo’s dedication to his job, it’s a no-brainer.

Seldom has an electoral choice been so easy. Mr. Oddo has been a highly effective, influential member of the City Council since he first took over for his former boss, John Fusco, in 1999. He delves into issues until he knows them better than anyone and he has acquired the knack of working across party lines for the benefit of his constituents and, indeed, all New Yorkers.

His superb leadership and yeoman work in the harrowing days and weeks after Hurricane Sandy were perhaps his finest hour, and a fitting coda to the first phase of what has been a stellar, if still emerging, career.

But that is only one of his accomplishments.

He also recently fought for and got passed, over the objections of the Bloomberg administration, a bill mandating more frequent Staten Island Ferry service and he has been at the fore of the battle to save Mount Manresa from development.

His willingness to take on a parish priest who has taken up the cause of defending the Jesuits’ top-dollar sale of the property is typical of Mr. Oddo’s style. His priority is the people, not protocol.

This is a borough that often has to battle to make itself heard at the higher levels of government, and Staten Islanders have always been able to take comfort in the knowledge that they can have no more resolute champion than James Oddo to fight on their behalf.

Now, the hard-charging, blunt-speaking Mr. Oddo seeks an office he rightly describes as “personality-driven.” We don’t mean to foreclose his future career options in the slightest, but we will say that he was born to be Staten Island’s borough president.

The post suits him so well because he gravitates to the nuts-and-bolts, problem-solving aspects of government.

And he has the boundless energy, robust bipartisan spirit and profound dedication to public service that the office requires. Those traits will serve this borough well for the next four or (more likely) eight years.

That’s not to take anything away from his opponent, Democrat Lou Liedy, who has waged a commendably thoughtful campaign.

The easygoing challenger and long-time Democratic Party activist hasn’t wasted the electorate’s time trying to pin fictional failures on Mr. Oddo.

Instead, he offers sound ideas on issues of importance to Staten Island, such as his proposal that the city Department of Transportation buy smaller, faster ferries for use overnight. His commonsense perspective on the Wheel/Empire Outlets project is welcome, as well.

Still, for us, Mr. Oddo is the clear-cut choice.

We expect that many Staten Island voters will agree on Tuesday.

Then, we get to stand back, and watch him go to work.