By Mark Hallum
Richard David, one of three contenders for the City Council formerly held by convicted felon Ruben Wills, a Democrat from Jamaica, was endorsed by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) Monday at the intersection of Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.
The only Republican in city government, Ulrich said he was endorsing David because he would oversee issues regardless of political party. Ulrich also lauded David as the most qualified candidate in the race, with more experience in the public sector, including a background with the city Economic Development Corporation, Consumer Affairs and Administration for Children’s Services.
“Our district is emerging from an era of corruption, we’ve lost probably up to 10 years. We got to get it right this time,” David said. “Our districts are side-by-side, but statistically the graduation rates [in the 28th District] are lower and the asthma rates are higher. The homeownership rates are about the same, but the foreclosure rates are higher here. There’s no reason to have this disparity in two neighboring districts that are identical in every other way.”
District 28 covers Richmond Hill, Jamaica and part of Ozone Park, where David is one of four vying for the seat. Hettie Powell and Adrienne Adams are also in the Democratic primary race.
According to David, the district has lost years of progress under Wills, who was convicted of funneling $33,000 in government funds to his own non-profit organization. He also argued that the district had lost out on up to 30 years of civic growth under poor leadership, and the result was a lack of community centers and programs, as well as a high school drop-out rate of about 50 percent.
“In 22 days, the voters of the 28th District will elect their next member of the City Council. I’m going to have to work with the person they elect at City Hall to fight for better transportation, to fight for better access to quality healthcare, to fight for more affordable housing,” Ulrich said. “I’m supporting a Democrat in this race who I believe is going to be effective, who is honest and who I know is going to work for all the voters in his district.”
At 31 years old, David is the youngest person running for public office in the city.
On July 20, Wills was convicted after an 11-day trial of five counts of grand larceny. Supreme Court Judge Ira Margulis ordered the disgraced politician to repay the $33,000 he took from his Council district and pay an additional $5,000 in fines for using funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board and the state’s Office of Children and Family Services on top of being sentenced to two to six years behind bars.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall