Richards prevails in Dem contest

Richards prevails in Dem contest
Photo by Christina Santucci/TimesLedger Newspapers
By Rich Bockmann

City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) is facing a Republican challenger as he seeks his first full term in office after winning the Democratic primary.

Richards, who has held the seat since winning a special election in February, captured 51.63 percent of the vote with 99 percent of the precincts reporting by Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

His closest challenger was Michael Duncan, who pulled in 36.42 percent of votes and Ricardo Brown, who netted 11.95 percent.

Richards will go on to face Murray in the Nov. 5 general election.

“I think that based on this being an overwhelmingly Democratic district we will be victorious in November,” Richards said.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 15-to-1 in the district, which covers Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway.

“On issues such as stop-and-frisk, I think my opponent’s record will certainly be taken into account in the election,” added Richards, who has been a vocal critic of the NYPD’s controversial practice.

Murray has criticized a pair of Police Department oversight bills that Richards and most of the Council members passed last month after Mayor Michael Bloomberg had vetoed them, arguing that curtailing the practice would put the city at risk of higher crime rates.

One of the bills creates an inspector general to oversee the department and another, which is being challenged in court, allows alleged victims of profiling to sue the city.

“I’ve always talked about solutions one can offer, and I think some are not the right solutions,” Murray said. “We can improve training and that was neglected in the bills.”

The GOP candidate said she favors “common sense solutions” to gun violence, such as a proposal to set up a bullet buyback program in the vein of a gun buyback.

“Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that we can make guns from 3D printing machines. They’re going to be undetectable in a couple of years,” she said. “To go out there and get the ammunition is one way of combatting crime.”

Murray ran against Richards’ predecessor, now-state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica), in 2009, earning 11 percent of the vote running on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Sanders, who would have been facing term limits this year, won his seat in Albany after defeating the scandal-plagued state Sen. Shirley Huntley in the 2012 Democratic primary.

Richards had spent ten years working in Sanders’ Council office, ultimately serving as his chief of staff, a position vacated by Duncan, the candidate he defeated in Tuesday’s primary.

Duncan had left the office after Sanders voted to extend term limits and challenged him in the 2009 Democratic primary.

But Duncan came in third place behind attorney Jacques Leandre. The two would see each other again in the special election earlier this year to replace Sanders, but after Richards won only Duncan decided to give it another shot in the regular election.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.