2008-06-06 / Top Stories

Richards Set To Challenge Titus In Dem Primary

By Howard Schwach

Donovan Richards, who will challenge Assemblywoman Michelle Titus for her seat in the September Democratic primary election, listens as Ed Williams tells people at a February rally at the Redfern Houses that it was time to take a stand against black on black crime. Richards, co-advisor for the NAACP Youth Council, stands with Pastor Dwayne Sleet, of the First Baptist Church of Far Rockaway. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Donovan Richards, who will challenge Assemblywoman Michelle Titus for her seat in the September Democratic primary election, listens as Ed Williams tells people at a February rally at the Redfern Houses that it was time to take a stand against black on black crime. Richards, co-advisor for the NAACP Youth Council, stands with Pastor Dwayne Sleet, of the First Baptist Church of Far Rockaway. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Donovan Richards is a man on the move who says that he can't wait for his boss, City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., to be term-limited in 2009.

"This is a time of change," Richards told The Wave. "I can't wait for another year to address the problems faced by my community. This is my time."

The 25-year-old community activist has decided to make an earlier move towards an elective office of his own by challenging Assemblywoman Michelle Titus in the upcoming September primary.

Titus won a special election in 2002 to replace Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, who had died in office. She represents much of the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula, as well as Springfield Gardens, Ozone Park and Laurelton.

Since her election, many locals say, she had kept a low profile, preferring to work behind the scenes rather than take a leadership role, particularly in addressing the crime and employment problems faced by her constituents.

Some say that her laid back style makes her vulnerable to a go-getter like Richards, who has been active in several local issues recently, including the closure of the Redfern Community Center and the recent spate of shootings in the Far Rockaway community.

And, while Richards has been working for Sanders during that time, he has managed to simultaneously create his own political identity, experts say.

"We don't have a voice at the state level," Richards told Brendon Brosh, a former Wave staffer who now writes for the Daily News. "This is the season of change."

Titus, 38, who previously worked for the discredited and defeated State Senator Ada Smith, as well as for the city's Department of Education as an attorney, told Brosh, "I take all my elections seriously. I am going to be out putting forward my agenda and my record to the people of my district."

Richards, however, thinks that Titus' record is not a good one on which to run.

"You can't forget the people who voted you in," he says of Titus. "They can easily vote you out."

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