Roy Paul touts grassroots appeal in race to succeed Clark

By Patrick Donachie

Roy Paul foresees a groundswell of support that may help him emerge victorious in the upcoming Democratic primary election Sept. 13 to fill the seat vacated by the late Assemblywoman Barbara Clark.

Paul hopes to represent Queens’ 33rd District, which includes parts of Queens Village, Hollis, Bellerose, Cambria Heights and St. Albans.

“People are hopeful and optimistic about people who are willing to do the work,” he said during an interview. “We’re actually helping people become proactive, engaged citizens. We’re helping people become sustainable.”

Paul’s career spans the worlds of elected office, journalism and community service. He was elected to the Orange County school board at 19 years old, becoming the youngest African-American to ever be elected to office in New York state. Even after he left public office to pursue journalism work, he missed the “personal engagement with the voter” that came with holding office.

“I never told anybody it wasn’t my problem,” he said about his time on the school board, saying he has made efforts to be enthusiastically accessible to constituents in and out of the 33rd District. “They’re not used to that kind of personal engagement… they should never be amazed that people who are trying to serve the public are giving out their personal information or trying to respond to their requests.”

Paul cited issues with education funding, senior care, the lack of transit options and quality-of-life concerns as foundational issues during the campaign. He noted that the principal of Public School 360 contacted him several years earlier about continued requests for the city to put computers in the school. Paul coordinated a fund-raising campaign that concluded with enough money to purchase computers for the students.

He expressed support for a ‘uni-card’ that could help transit riders who were commuting to Manhattan from Queens to make a transfer between the subway and the Long Island Rail Road at a reduced rate.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” he said. “We have to find ways to reduce the fares. We can’t reduce options.”

Paul said the support unions and the Democratic Party machine had given Clyde Vanel, another competitor in the race, did not match the support he was hearing when speaking to voters. He said his campaign had steadily gained support since he had announced his candidacy, and he continued to build backing through visiting several churches each Sunday to speak to parishioners.

“You can get a personalized sense of who you are and what you’re about,” Paul said about the church visits, where he said he was galvanizing support for his candidacy. “I really believe people who attend church are passionate about the future.”

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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