Northeast Queens public servant announces candidacy for City Council

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Richard Lee. (Photo courtesy of campaign)

A career public servant from northeast Queens is hoping to make a jump from Borough Hall back to City Hall. Douglaston native Richard Lee formally announced his candidacy to represent District 19 as City Councilman Paul Vallone is term-limited out in 2021.

A community advocate with an accomplished record of public service and policy expertise, Lee is committed to fighting for the people of northeast Queens and moving diverse communities forward.

“My years of public service working to address quality of life issues, helping constituents access public services, fighting for fair funding in our schools, and advocating for a more responsible budget has prepared me to be the City Council Member our community will need as we recover from these unprecedented times,” Lee said.

Born into a Korean-American immigrant family, Lee grew up in Douglaston and is a product of New York City public schools. He currently serves as Budget Director for the Queens borough president.

Lee is tasked with overseeing capital funding projects as well as drafting the  Borough President’s response to the Mayor’s budget. He has consistently highlighted the funding inequities of residents in Queens, particularly those in northeast Queens.

“We live in a diverse district with diverse needs. As a son of immigrant parents, Richard understands the struggles that our first-generation neighbors face,” Northeast Queens community activist Malini Shah said. “Richard is a hard-working proven leader whose commitment to working people is clear from his record. He’s the fighter Northeast Queens needs in the City Council.”

Before joining the Office of Queens Borough President, Lee served as Budget and Legislative Director in theNew York City Council to the Deputy Majority Leader, overseeing a wide range of policy issues and guiding community groups through the convoluted city budget process. Prior to that, Lee was a community organizer with Asian Americans for Equality, fighting for tenant protections, small business support, senior services, immigration reform, and funding equity for northeast Queens communities. 

“With his vast legislative and fiscal experience and a deep understanding of how local government works, Richard will be a tremendous Councilman for Northeast Queens,” long-time BayTerrace community leader Warren Schreiber said in announcing his support for Lee’s candidacy. “I support Richard because he has shown competent evenhanded leadership that is mindful of today’s enormous challenges. Richard has been a champion for our community’s seniors, delivering help to Northeast Queens seniors that will lead to a more enriching and fulfilling life.”

Vallone’s district represents Bayside, Bay Terrace, Auburndale, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Little Leck, Malba and Whitestone. Victor Dadras, a community leader in Douglaston and Little Neck, architect and urban designer, announced his support for Lee’s candidacy.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our local community. They create good-paying jobs, expand opportunity, fuel prosperity, and foster innovation across the country. And they deserve a government that actively supports them, especially right now, when small businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic havoc caused by this pandemic,”  Dadras said. “That’s why Richard’s candidacy is so important. Northeast Queens needs a visionary leader who will work hand-to-hand with our small business leaders to get the necessary aid for them to survive, rebuild and thrive, once again.:

Lee also announced that through the NYC Campaign Finance  Board’s Matching Funds Program, the campaign has already met the maximum threshold for matching funds. To learn more about Lee, visit his website here.

“I’m running for City Council because I believe that, together, we will be able to rebuild the small businesses that serve as a backbone of our community, address the historic underinvestment in our students and preserve the continuity of merit, ensure the needs of our seniors so they can age gracefully, redesign a community-oriented transit system, and bring accountability in government when it fails to address the needs of our residents,” Lee said. “From College Point to Little Neck,I will work hard to bring new life and opportunities to every neighborhood of this district, and move Northeast Queens forward, together.”