2008-09-05 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Democracy Or Hypocrisy?
By Donovan Richards Candidate For Assembly

Democracy is defined as government by the people, as in a republic. Well one must question if the powers that be are really practicing democracy. As a staunch democrat the very tactics that are being used to keep my name from appearing on the Democratic ballot in September's primary are astounding and sad.

For the past month, I have had to fight against the very people who claim to be Democrats, but fail to practice what they preach. The very people, who claim they have the community's best interest at heart, but fail to show up to work for their constituents. The very people who spend your tax dollars around election time to create a smoke screen, as if they have been working for you during their overstayed tenure in public office. The very people who fail to show up to crime scenes of young people who have been murdered down the block from their well-equipped offices. The very people who allow the Thriftway mall to be boarded up, while the hungry and jobless have to watch Nassau County residents park their cars in the parking lot for free, while they travel to work. The very people who allow your grandmother to walk up all 41 steps at Mott Avenue train station every day, because not one train station in Far Rockaway is handicap accessible. The very people who won't raise their voices for you to get employed at jobsites on the peninsula. The very people you pull the lever for every September. The very people we call Democrats.

Now I have had the pleasure of fighting Assemblymember Titus and the old boy network for the past couple weeks in and out of court. I have to admit this has been adventurous and an eye opening experience. This experience has taught me why year after year the same mediocre people are placed in office. Well for one, after collecting nearly 2,000 signatures and being told 387 signatures of my signatures are valid is the first sign of the old guard's tactics of keeping me off the ballot. It seems as if they have enjoyed home court advantage in the courtrooms of Queens, where the judges are supposed to uphold the law based on facts, but are corrupted due to job security reasons.

Last week I held a press conference at the Board of Elections that I purposely had one of my so-called unregistered Democrats come to. In less than five minutes he walked into the Board of Elections and was able to verify, in front of the press, that he was a registered Democrat for 30 years. This person also obtained nearly twenty signatures that don't count because of this mistake. However, when I go into the court the judge won't even acknowledge that a mistake was made. When my campaign manager attended court, I found it interesting that Titus' lawyer boasted of his great relationship with the judge. I wonder if this was a factor in his decision to dismiss my case without hearing my lawyer's arguments for even 30 seconds. You tell me if this is democracy or hypocrisy?

The truth is that the old boy network is running scared and frantic that my opponent may lose her seat in September if I square off with her in the primary, because she is highly unknown in the district she has served for six years. The truth is that the only way to do this is to keep my name off the ballot in September.

Five years ago when my childhood friend was murdered I decided to embark on this journey of public office. I never anticipated that my life would take this drastic turn. However, I stand and will fight in memory of him and every other person who lost his or her life to senseless violence. I will fight to the bitter end. Furthermore, I am standing for the people in my district, who are tired of the status quo. The people who really want to see change. The people who are tired of our youth lingering the streets because of a lack of innovative programming. The people who truly are democrats and respect the process. However, as long as the old boy network continues to practice hypocrisy instead of democracy our streets will be the same. Over the next week I will take my case out of Queens to the Appellate Court, where I hear there is more sanity in Brooklyn. Keep me in your prayers as I fight to help change our community.

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