Councilman Vincent Gentile adopted the “Vinnie” moniker for his congressional bid against Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, but that’s not the only position he’s changed over the years. The former state senator and three-term councilman has shifted his position on several key issues over the course of his 19-year political career.
Gentile’s initial support for a waste transfer station in Gravesend could be his undoing on Staten Island — once rumored to have a dump so large it was visible from space — said a critic who challenged Gentile for his council seat in 2013.
“Staten Island is the grandchild of dumps,” said John Quaglione, also an aide to state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge). “Dan Donovan just has to say [Gentile] supported a dump in Brooklyn, and [Gentile is] finished.”
As a councilman, the congressional aspirant voted to approve Mayor Bloomberg’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan — which included provisions for a waste transfer station in Gravesend.
But he changed his tune about the proposal, which enjoyed broad support in the Council, after finding out the facility could negatively impact neighbors.
“I was compelled to reexamine the plan to build a waste transfer station at Bay 41st near Gravesend Bay after reviewing startling new information uncovered by my friend and colleague Assemblyman Colton,” Gentile told the Brooklyn Eagle in 2013.
As councilman, the pol voted against extending term limits in 2008, but sought reelection to a third term in 2013.
Gentile didn’t support extension for city lawmakers because there was no referendum on the matter, he told this paper.
Voters repealed the term limit extension in 2010, but Gentile, along with other politicians in office when the extension went into effect, was allowed to try for a three-peat and decided to run, arguing his constituents would determine whether he deserved a third go-round.
“Three terms is appropriate if people vote for the person for the three terms,” he said. “The point is that at the time of the vote, there was no public referendum. I thought there needed to be a public referendum. You go for another term based on your record, and I think that my record, as we will lay out in the campaign, endorses a third term.”
Gentile voted against a gay rights bill while serving in the state Senate, but has since supported a several gay-friendly bills as a councilman.
In a recent interview with NY1’s Errol Louis, Gentile said he didn’t support the state Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual preference, because it didn’t have a religious exemption.
“It wasn’t because of what was in the bill — it was because of what was not in the bill,” said Gentile, who was once accused by a male aide of sexual harassment. “Everything in the bill was fine.”
The lawmaker added that he supported state bills establishing hate crime enhancements for crimes against gay people before joining the Council in 2002.
— Max Jaeger