By Rich Bockmann
There does not appear to be any hard feelings between George McDonald and City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).
The former Republican candidate for mayor and the councilman, who backed Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) in the Democratic primary, laughed and shook hands Tuesday as they announced the expansion of McDonald’s nonprofit, The Doe Fund, to Merrick Boulevard.
“It’s my pleasure to be here today as I announce my retirement from partisan politics,” quipped McDonald, who came in third place behind John Catsimatidis and GOP nominee Joe Lhota in the party’s primary. “So now that the election is over, I’m not representing any political party. I’m representing what I believe is the best of New York City.”
Richards’ predecessor had previously set aside money for The Doe Fund, which provides jobs and support to people struggling with issues such as homelessness and addiction, in the Rockaways section of his district. This year the councilman allocated funding to expand the program to tidy up Laurelton’s small business corridor.
“This is sort of an offensive to take back Merrick Boulevard and make sure it reflects the beauty in this community,” the councilman said. “Fridays through Sundays are normally the worst days out here, partly because Sanitation is not picking up the garbage as frequently as they used to.”
Two Doe Fund workers are now slated to clean the business row between 219th Street and Francis Lewis Boulevard two days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Laurelton is notable for both its well-preserved stock of Colonial Revival-style homes and the attractive landscaped malls that run down the centers of its side streets, but residents say that once you venture onto the artery of Merrick Boulevard, it is a different story.
“Laurelton has always been known for its beautiful streets. On a grassroots basis every house tries to do its very best and then when you get to the boulevard there has been a change,” said Bonnie Huie, president of the 229th Street Block Association. “I’m sincerely hoping that the Doe Fund will become a household word on making Laurelton what it used to be.”
In August, McDonald participated in a mayoral forum not far from where he stood Tuesday on the corner of Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards. He was booed loudly for his criticism of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, but McDonald — who joked that there was probably no one in the building who could vote for him in the Republican primary, but that he would welcome their vote in the general election — appeared to strike a chord with voters with his stance that stop-and-frisk could be curtailed if more people had work.
“No matter what your political philosophy is,” Richards asked, “who could disagree with that rationally?”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.