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Dem’s Brooklyn roots may help him in fight for the 50th

The Brooklyn Paper
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If you want to fight the Republicans on their own turf, you need a fair share of Brooklyn moxie. That’s something Democrat James Pocchia has plenty of.

As the hours tick down to Election Day, the borough native is pulling out all the stops in his fight to unseat Staten Island City Councilmember James Oddo, whose 50th district covers small stretches of Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. Oddo is making his third run for City Hall even though he had voted against extending term limits.

“I think the circumstances are perfect for me to be the first Democratic City Councilman in this district,” said Pocchia, a Richmond County attorney, when asked about his chances of defeating Oddo. “The district was created 18 years ago and has always been held by Republicans. We’re going to make history.”

Although he has spent most of his life on the other side of the Verrazano Bridge (he moved out of Brooklyn at age two), Pocchia said that he has fond memories of the borough.

“[Brooklyn] has a special place in my heart,” he said. “Both my parents were born there and they started their life together there.”

Pocchia’s parents lived in Gravesend when he was born. While he grew up on Staten Island, he returned to the borough often to visit his grandparents and other relatives.

“My grandparents owned a home along Fort Hamilton Parkway,” he said. “That’s where it all started for me and I still enjoy going back.”

But when he comes back to the borough these days, he brings his campaign platform with him, alerting potential voters about his desire to free the city’s grip on their purse strings.

“It’s all about making the city as comfortable as possible for people,” he said. “I want to ease parking restrictions and do away with contradictory street signs, support small business and make sure they stay vibrant, so it will be easier for residents to shop.”

He also shouts to the rafters against the City Council’s repeal of term limits, which he claims was the “most undemocratic back-room political decision New York City’s ever seen.”

Oddo’s decision to run for a third term was “hypocritical” because he had voted against the measure, Pocchia said.

“[Oddo] is someone who has been there for ten years and left us with so many deficienci­es,” he explained.

Pocchia’s “real dream,” however, is to create a subway connection between Brooklyn and Staten Island.

“The R train is the most likely line because it is the closest to Staten Island,” he said. “If we can get a connection to the ferry terminal the transportation possibilities are endless.”

If elected, Pocchia pledged that he would make more visits to the borough than Oddo has.

“Even though I’m sure that he knows how to find the Verrazano Bridge, I’m dismayed that he has not done anything to get the toll reduced,” he said, adding that his campaign has been focusing heavily on the Brooklyn side of the district.

“We’re doing everything we can to make the Brooklyn residents of the district know that their vote is important,” he said.

Election day is November 3.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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