Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was welcomed with considerable support in Staten Island. The isolated New York City borough is the most conservative of the city and has deep ties to the Trump family.
On April 17, Trump arrived on Staten Island to accept an endorsement from the New York Veteran Police Association as well as speak during the annual Lincoln Day brunch at the Hilton Garden Inn, drawing a crowd of more than 1,000.
“Staten Island is a great place,” Trump told his supporters. “We have safety on Staten Island. We have great police, great people on Staten Island and I know it so well.”
The borough is politically isolated from the rest of New York City, predominantly Irish and Italian with many residents working in law enforcement.
Often at odds with their demographically liberal neighbors, the people of Staten Island even came close to secession from the city in 1993, according to NBC News.
“We have different values than the rest of city,” said Mildred Amtrudo, a local administrative assistant. “They don’t understand us or care about us. They’re a different city.”
The Trump family has owned a myriad of buildings and employed large numbers of people in the island borough. The business mogul is considered a local celebrity and they view him as one of their own.
“All of the stuff Trump had going on in the '80s,” cited Richard Luthman, a Staten Island Democrat who told Time magazine he will vote for the billionaire. “The hotel. The board game. The football. He’s synonymous with wealth. Trump is New York.”
Protesters were waiting outside the venue for Trump’s address, many unhappy with their neighbors supporting his controversial rhetoric. Pete McParland, a local resident, said “Unfortunately, it’s a very racist borough.”
During his address, Trump stated that the Republican primary was a crooked game, telling his supporters that he could win over delegates by showering them with gifts and favors but chose to be above that.
“You’re basically buying these people,” Trump said, according to The New York Times. “That’s a corrupt system … It’s a rigged system. It’s a crooked system. It’s 100 percent crooked.”
Claire Chesnoff, a Staten Island real estate agent, voiced appreciation that Trump would campaign in a borough that has largely been ignored by presidential candidates.
“People will see that we’re really a slice of Middle America buried in a big city,” Chesnoff said. “We’re our own little town. We’re all working people who have earned what we have.”