At a loss for words and on the verge of tears, Ruben Wills celebrated a City Council win with supporters at his campaign office on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill. Wills beat six other contenders to claim the District 28 seat long held by the late Tom White Jr.
“I can’t wait to get to work to let you know that I’m not going to let you down,” Wills said. “I was in the back just praying. ‘God please, God please,’ not even because I wanted to win, but because I didn’t want to let all of you down.”
Unlike the primaries, when the results of races slowly trickled in, supporters had no idea what was happening for nearly three hours on Tuesday, until suddenly a few screams and a roar of applause broke the silence.
“I’m proud to announce that while we don’t have every single number in, we are up almost 500 votes with only one poll and one machine that is down remaining,” Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) told attendees at around 11:45 p.m. “We are feeling very confident that we have won this race.”
In addition to Comrie, Wills was joined by Archie Spigner, leader of the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, and Bryan White, son of the late Tom White Jr.
“My dad would have wanted the best person to win,” White said. “I’m here because I support Wills. I think he is a better candidate than the others and I think he exemplifies what my father was all about.”
Each supporter had a different reason for backing Wills, but all seemed confident from the beginning that he would win.
“Ruben stands for integrity,” said Charlene Jennings. “He knows the struggles of the people in the community and he has not abandoned them. He encourages them, despite the economy and all the problems, that we can make it.”
Bernard Shannon of South Ozone Park said Wills inspired him to get involved in the election and he spent time campaigning for the candidate.”
“For quite a while I was not a political person,” Shannon said. “But when I was walking through the district and seeing the diversity and how the problems are different from area to area, I wanted to be a part of change for the community.”
Wills did not discuss the campaign’s recent controversies, except to say, “I want to thank all of the voters for not listening to the smear campaign and the negative tactics that were used. At a time when we face so many problems in our community, all it did was bring us down into the muck and mire. We tried to stay above it and this is actually like a reward.”
The candidate’s wife, Marcia, smiled brightly after her husband’s victory, stating that she was glad the anticipation was over so that he could get to work on all the tough issues facing the district.
“I’m so proud of my husband,” she said. “He has worked so hard for the community.”
Wills garnered 3,347 votes, according to preliminary results. Nicole Paultre Bell, fiancee of police shooting victim Sean Bell, came in second with 2,721 votes, followed by Ozone Park lawyer Albert Baldeo with 1,512, former City Councilman Allan Jennings with 1,068, Rikers Island Imam Charles Bilal with 925, Sikh Cultural Society Chairman Harpreet Toor with 728 and Martha Butler, chief of staff to Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-South Ozone Park), with 436.