A handful of competitive Democratic state senate primaries will unfold later this month in New York City, including a race on Staten Island.

The 23rd District has four Democratic candidates vying for the soon-to-be-vacant seat.

With less than two weeks before early voting starts, candidates are doing what they can to reach Staten Island voters.

Jessica Scarcella-Spanton is one of the candidates running to replace state Sen. Diane Savino, who is retiring.

Scarcella-Spanton once worked for Savino and now has her endorsement, along with most of the elected officials who touch the district and many of the big labor unions.

“Things have been going really well. It’s just a matter of making sure we get the word out. We are reminding people that if they are not going to be here for the Aug. 23 primary that they can vote early between Aug. 13th to the 21st,” Scarcella-Spanton said. “And also helping people who need absentee ballots, we are also reminding people that the deadline is Aug. 8.”

The 23rd District covers the north shore of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn’s south shore.

Scarcella-Spanton faces Bianca Rajpersaud, who has endorsements from some elected officials, although mostly outside the district. She has secured the endorsement of Staten Island Assembly member Charles Fall.

She says raising awareness about the primary has been the hardest part of campaigning.

“That is the biggest challenge right now is really identifying the pocket that is not going on vacation,” Rajpersaud said. “But what made it even more challenging is that a lot of New York voters don’t even know that there is an election coming up on August 23rd, and that is the feedback that we are getting going door to door speaking to voters.”

One issue that’s timely are the serious delays commuters are now experiencing on the Staten Island Ferry.

A shortage of workers has led to those delays and backups. Captains, engineers, and mates have been working without a contract for more than a decade.

“What we are seeing in terms of the shortage in staffing is unacceptable. And that has been the excuse for years now,” says Rajpersaud.

“I think what this really shows is the cracks that are already in the foundation of our transportation system on Staten Island. We have some of the longest commute times,” says Scarcella-Spanton.

Also in the race is Sarah Blas, who is running in the left lane with endorsements from progressive groups, including the Working Families Party.

Blas comes to the race with a unique story.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent both Brooklyn and Staten Island. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. And about 18 years ago my family, like hundreds of hard working families in New York City, we experienced homelessness. And we were moved into a homeless shelter right here on Staten Island,” Blas said. “And I’ve been here for 18 years and it’s become home.”

Rounding out the race is Rajiv Gouda, a civil engineer who ran unsuccessfully against Savino in the 2020 primary. Savino won with more than 70% of the vote.

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