Scherie Murray’s seemingly unlikely campaign for the City Council — she is a black woman running on the Republican line in overwhelmingly Democratic Southeast Queens — had its genesis in the most unlikely of places: a swing set in Brookville Park.
“I did gymnastics in school and I like to use the swings to work out,” she said in a Monday interview with the Chronicle. But one day she went there and “they were gone.”
Calls to the relevant city departments and officials got her nowhere, and now the mother and native of Jamaica, West Indies is looking to unseat Councilman Donovan Richards Jr. (D-Laurelton) in the 31st Council District.
Richards won a special election in February after then-Councilman James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) took his seat in the state Senate.
Richards had served as Sanders’ chief of staff for 10 years before being elected.
“I’ve lived in Rosedale for 14 years,” Murray said. “The district has had the same leadership for 12 years, and I don’t see anything changing. If you elect Donovan Richards, you have a continuation of that leadership.”
She also believes that more of a woman’s viewpoint should be brought to the Council.
Murray said the flooding that takes place during heavy rains, abetted by poor sewer infrastructure and the refusal of the city to pump ground water out of the old Jamaica Water Service wells, is only a symptom.
“Every time we go to the city for something, we’re told ‘We can’t afford it in your district,’” she said.
On another contentious issue, Murray is an unabashed supporter of charter schools as an important option for parents in the district.
On transportation, she wants ferry service between the Rockaways and Manhattan to be made permanent and expanded, and would like to explore a bus route linking Gateway Mall in Brooklyn and Green Acres Mall in Nassau County.
And her big-ticket item is the reactivation of the old Rockaway Beach railroad line, which was abandoned by the Long Island Rail Road more than 50 years ago.
She acknowledged that talks would have to take place with those who favor turning the line onto a park, and especially with residents along the old tracks who may not have bargained on a rail line running through their properties when they bought their homes decades ago.
She opposes recent city ordinances aimed at the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, saying they just add cost and a level of bureaucracy that are unnecessary to achieve their stated goals of fostering better relations between the community and the NYPD.
Murray acknowledged that even if elected, there could be difficulties inherent in being in a Republican caucus that could be small enough to meet in a booth at a diner.
Pressed on how she would pay for her wish list in a city with a projected deficit of about $5 billion over the next three years, Murray said she still has homework to do.
“I’m not an insider on the budget,” she said.