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Queens Chronicle

Candidates trade barbs in 31st CD

Richards, challengers lose the gloves

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:17 am, Thu Jul 25, 2013.

The topic of a candidate forum in the 31st Council District last week was sustainability and the environment.

And in their closing statements, the three challengers said residents of the district should not recycle incumbent Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).

Richards succeeded state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica), for whom Richards worked about 10 years, in February in a special election after Sanders was seated in the Senate.

Speaking at an environmental forum in Rosedale sponsored by the Eastern Queens Alliance and the New York League of Conservation Voters, Richards used his closing remarks to tout not only legislation he has introduced and money he has secured for public safety, housing and transportation projects, but his experience first as Sanders’ aide and the last four months as councilman.

“I’m ready to go day one,” he said.

Scherie Murray, a Republican, said voters should ask themselves if they are satisfied with how the district was served by Sanders, and by extension, Richards.

“Do you want the same things going forward?” she asked.

Binger, in his closing, took up the same theme.

“We need new blood,” he said.

Michael Duncan spoke first of his own commitment to the community over the last 18 years, including building a youth soccer program from the ground up, and his efforts to stop a so-called “hot-sheets motel” that was slated to open near a high school.

“Other people can talk about what they did to stop that motel,” Duncan said in a none-too-veiled swipe at the councilman. “I actually worked to do it.”

He also accused Richards of playing politics with Hurricane Sandy, alleging that Richards rudely blew off his request for information on certain conditions in the Rockaways.

Richards was unimpressed afterward.

“The people voted me in on Feb. 19,” he said. “I guess they’re pleased with the last 10 years.”

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