Tag Archives: Michael Duncan

Incumbent Councilmember Donovan Richards regains District 31 seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Councilmember Donovan Richards was given the go ahead to keep the City Council seat he has briefly held since March’s special election.

Richards declared victory after receiving over 50 percent of the votes over his opponents, Michael Duncan, community activist, and Ricardo Brown, accountant.

In his first six months in office, Richards fought against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to close daycares, libraries, after-school programs and firehouses in the district. He also brought in nearly $10 million in capital and expense funding for various projects including technology and school upgrades and library expansions.

He negotiated with the Bloomberg Administration to establish a Workforce Center in the district and voted to overturn the mayor’s veto on stop and frisk.

Before winning re-election, Richards worked for then-Councilmember James Sanders for about a decade. Sanders vacated the 31st District seat to successfully run for State Senate.

“Donovan is a young man who has tremendous vision,” said attorney Jacques Leandre at the polls on voting day, September 10.

Before the results came in, Leandre said the district would be “tremendously blessed by whoever wins,” including Duncan, who Leandre said has “tremendous passion.”

Duncan, restaurant owner and community activist, also ran in the special election.

During his term, Richards said he will focus on education, jobs and affordable housing within Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and the Rockaways.

Springfield Gardens doesn’t want liquor store near school


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Springfield Gardens wants to make sure the area around its high school stays dry.

A construction site across the street from Springfield Gardens High School could be the new home for a liquor store. But the community is calling for its owner to put a cork in it.

“We are not going to get drunk to a liquor store,” said State Senator James Sanders. “What does he think we are, high?”

By law, a liquor store cannot be within 200 feet of a school, according to the New York State Liquor Authority. Measurements showed the school’s doors are roughly 75 feet away from the proposed site of the liquor store.

Officials said once the dismissal bell rings, hundreds of students flood out of the high school’s doors and linger in the area. The youths socialize and stop in surrounding stores.

“We don’t want our young scholars seeing drunkards, people bobbing and weaving across the street,” Sanders said.

“This is not something the community wants,” echoed Franck Joseph, Community Liaison for Councilmember Donovan Richards. “It is very disrespectful, and a backhand slap. It shows a disregard to the community.”

Community activists Michael Duncan and Joan Flowers joined Sanders and Richards at a press conference on Friday, May 11 calling on the liquor authority to shut down the proposal.

Lawrence McClean, district manager of Community Board 13, said while owners are required by law to notify the local community board if they wish to open a liquor store, they have heard nothing.

“People are trying to get away with things in the dark,” he said.

McClean and the board have sent a packet with signatures to the liquor authority in strong opposition to the proposal. They were yet to hear back, but hoped the liquor authority does not even entertain the plan.

Richards said he tried to meet with the would-be owner, Tarsem Singh, but to no avail. Richards and Sanders hope to sit down and discuss the feasibility of using the space for something more “community-appropriate.”

“Put in an after-school youth center,” Sanders said. “We could have a place where we’re teaching values. It’s their future we’re concerned about.”

Singh could not be reached for comment. The liquor authority did not return repeated calls.

 

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Special election candidates patrolling poll sites


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The race continues, and candidates for the 31st District’s City Council seat are making the rounds, reaching out to the people they hope to make their constituents.

“I’m feeling great,” said Selvena Brooks, who has a political past working in the State Senate. “We have a real presence on the ground throughout southeast Queens and a lot of community support.”

Brooks and fellow candidates Pesach Osina, Donovan Richards, Jacques Leandre, Michael Duncan, Allan Jennings, Saywalah Kesselly and Marie Adam-Ovide have spent election day continuing their campaigns, and do not plan to rest until polls close at 9 p.m. tonight.

“I’m going to be out there until 8:59 p.m., just trying to get one more person to the polls” said Marie Adam-Ovide, district manager of Community Board 8. “I’m trying to encourage more people to come out.

 

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City Council replacement to be decided in special election today


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pesach Osina

Decision day has arrived, and one of eight candidates for southeast Queens’ 31st District will sit upon the City Council.

The council hopefuls hit the ground running just over a month ago when James Sanders vacated his seat and moved to the Senate. The campaign stretch, although short, has been heated.

Michael Duncan, Marie Adam-Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly, Jacques Leandre, Selvena Brooks, Donovan Richards, Allan Jennings and Pesach Osina were put up against each other in several public forums, testing their knowledge of the district neighborhoods and their ideas for the future.

The Daily News reported that in a nonpartisan special election such as this one, political observers note that merely a few hundred votes could determine a winner.

Donovan Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, received the veteran pol’s support, as well as 18 union endorsements and support from 60 community leaders, according to his Facebook page. Additionally, his campaign war chest came in first, and raised nearly $130,000.

Residents in communities such as Springfield Gardens and Laurelton are concerned with area flooding, and hope their new councilmember can make progress in eliminating the issue. Many people also want to see improvement in the school system and a decrease in home foreclosures.

Photo courtesy of Selvena Brooks 

 

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City Council candidate Jacques Leandre revokes election lawsuit


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Attorney Jacques Leandre, one of nine candidates in a special election for former Councilmember James Sanders’ 31st district seat, has withdrawn a lawsuit questioning the validity of qualifying petitions of some of his rivals after the Board of Elections (BOE) authenticated the signatures.

“Leandre should have never filed his lawsuit in the first place,” said Selvena Brooks, one of the candidates under fire. “[It] was a cynical, anti-democratic exercise, and a waste of the court’s time.”

Before withdrawing his claims, Leandre said that it was all a part of the electoral process, a system that his opponents were “not adequately versed in.”

“This is really nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “Candidates and objectors have the right to question petition signatures, and the BOE verifies those signatures.” After Leandre and his team received the determination by the board that the other candidates met their requirements, he decided that withdrawing was the best thing to do.

“Although we disagree with the determination, we respect the board’s decision,” he said.

Earnest Flowers, another candidate Leandre targeted, said that the allegations were “most certainly false,” and that it was just a tactic to try and get candidates to spend campaign funds on lawyers instead of the race. Leandre countered this by saying this process ensures the integrity of the race.

Others accused included Allan Jennings, Marie Adams-Ovide, Michael Duncan and Donovan Richards. Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, is reportedly the favorite and recently received the endorsement of mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

The candidates will now square off in several debates until the special election on Tuesday, February 19.

 

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