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Queens Chronicle

31st CD: And then there were three

Challengers Brown, Duncan look to unseat Richards in Dem primary

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:16 am, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Back in February, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) won a special election to fill the seat vacated when state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica) was sworn into office.

On Tuesday he will square off against challengers Ricardo Brown, a certified public accountant, and community activist Michael Duncan in a primary for the Democratic nomination for a full term in the newly redrawn 31st District.

Brown, a member of the Springfield Gardens Rosedale Community Association, states in his platform that he is the most qualified to modernize and improve the school system, and to create jobs for youths in the district and city.

He favors rebuilding homes in the areas of the Rockaways hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy last fall, and would like to see more transparency regarding the allocation of FEMA relief funds.

Brown is part of the growing chorus looking to compel the Department of Environmental Protection to improve drainage in Southeast Queens as a means of controlling flooding.

He also would like to form civilian patrol teams organized by local civic associations.

Duncan is a former PTA president and the founder of the Rosedale Soccer Club, and said he would burnish his credentials as an advocate for the district’s youth by increasing afterschool programs.

He also has highlighted his opposition to a prison run by the GEO Group, Inc. in Springfield Gardens near Kennedy Airport; and the so-called “hot sheets” motel that was being planned for land across from Springfield Gardens High School until last year.

Richards also has campaigned on his efforts to stop the hotel, which led to a pointed exchange at a candidate forum this past July in Rosedale. Duncan accused the councilman of taking credit for the work of himself and others.

Richards served as an aide to then-Councilman Sanders for a decade before moving into the big chair himself.

On education, Richards has touted his efforts to deliver funding for technology in district schools.

The councilman’s campaign cites a record on crime and public safety that includes the support of gun buyback programs, and the allocation of more than $5 million for security cameras in the crime-plagued Redfern and Hammel housing projects.

Richards also has been a vocal supporter of the Community Safety Act and the City Council’s successful override of Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the legislation.

The act is aimed at alleged abuses and racial profiling stemming from the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. Mayor Bloomberg is suing to overturn some of the act’s provisions. [see separate story in most editions or at qchron.com].

The primary is on Sept. 10., with the winner expected to take on Republican Scherie Murray.

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