By Jonathan Sperling
Southeast Queens Councilmember Donovan Richards officially announced his candidacy for Queens borough president on Wednesday, throwing his hat into the ring for a position that could open up in a 2020 special election.
“For some in Queens, there has been growth,” Donovan said in the video. “But far too many of our communities have been left behind.”
In a 2013 special election, Richards handily won the seat in Council District 31, which covers Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and other parts of Southeast Queens. If elected borough president, Richards said he would address many of the issues plaguing Southeast Queens — housing, in particular — from borough hall.
“While we watch luxury buildings pierce the sky, far too many of our children live with mold in public housing,” Richards said.
Richards also spoke about his inspiration for pursuing a career in politics and the position of borough president: the shooting death of his childhood friend, Darnell Patterson, in 2003. It was this incident that led Richards to the forefront of fighting gun violence in Southeast Queens. He eventually went on to serve as chief of staff for former councilmember and current State Sen. James Sanders, Jr.
His platform also revolves around criminal justice, improving public transportation and immigrants' rights. He supports closing Rikers Island, holding the MTA accountable and keeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents out of Queens’ courts.
The borough president position would open up if current Queens Borough President Melinda Katz defeats the Republican nominee, Joe Murray, in the November general election for Queens district attorney. Should Katz win her bid for DA, the mayor would call a special election for Queens borough president sometime in February or March of 2020.
“We must do better. That’s why we are shepherding in thousands of new mixed-income units for Queens families. We’re building a new police precinct, right here in Queens,” Richards said.
The councilmember also stressed the idea of leading the “new Queens,” a borough “where over 200 languages are celebrated, not challenged.
“I’m committed to making it work for everyone,” Richards said.