Donovan Richards officially launches campaign for Queens borough president

Max Parrott/QNS

Donovan Richards marched up to the most prominent symbol of Queens on Wednesday to announce his intention to run the borough.

Richards threw in his bid for the office of borough president on Oct. 2 at the Unisphere along with arranging an endorsement from former Borough President Claire Shulman. 

Richards touted his record as a councilman of encouraging economic recovery among low-income communities and farther eastern reaches of the borough.

“There’s been incredible growth in our borough. But as we watch the skyline transform in front of our eyes each and everyday, there are too many of us who are being left behind. We can and we must do better for every part of this borough,” Richards said.

Richards joins Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides and Long Island City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in pursuing the office, as well as Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, whose southeastern district overlaps with his own in Laurelton and Rosedale.

Richards’ vision included property tax reforms that would address racial bias, investment in the “nonexistent” transportation infrastructure of eastern Queens, a more community-driven zoning process, an immigration unit at borough hall and reforms to the community board structure. 

His speech made the argument for his know-how based on his City Council committee appointments. As a councilman, Richards first became chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee during the 2014-2017 session, and later became the Zoning Committee chair and chair of the Public Safety Committee.

“There’s no one in this race who can talk about bringing a community back from destruction after a storm like the historic Hurricane Sandy, nor the historic investments for what I call the forgotten communities in Queens,” Richards said.

In addition to securing a $2.2 billion investment in Queens infrastructure improvements following Sandy, Richards took credit for ushering in Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, the rules requiring affordable housing in rezoned areas, under his watch as Zoning Committee Chair.

“He has the ability. He has the experience. He has the energy. And look at what his record says. His record is nothing short of a miracle,” Shulman said. 

Shulman, who served from 1986 until 2002 as the first woman to be elected borough president, rose in municipal government through her involvement on community boards. Richards said that he thinks the community board system is an important structure to ensure that there’s equity in terms of where the city invests its resources. 

Richards added that he believes the city can engage a more diverse cross section of the borough through live broadcasts of meetings online. Likewise he criticized what he perceived to be a top-down approach to the Amazon LIC development by city and state officials as a mistake. 

The other progressive sticking point that Richard dismissed was real estate donations. He declined to disavow campaign from developers, saying that he doesn’t believe that his integrity would ever be compromised.

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