Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, Staten Island has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a "strong" mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services on Staten Island.
The office of Borough president was created in the consolidation of 1898 to balance centralization with local authority. Each borough president had a powerful administrative role derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city's budget and proposals for land use.
The Office of Borough President became one focal point for opinions over the Vietnam War when former intelligence agent and peace activist Ed Murphy ran for office in 1973, sponsored by the Staten Island Democratic Association. Murphy's combat veteran status deflected traditional right-wing attacks on liberals, and the campaign facilitated the emergence of more liberal politics on Staten Island. In Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris (1989), the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had no greater effective representation on the board than Staten Island, the least populous borough, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.
Borough Hall in St. George, Staten Island.
Since 1990 the Borough president has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations. Staten Island's Borough President is Vito Fossella, a Republican who was elected in November 2021. Fossella is the only Republican borough president in New York City.