2012-09-21 / Top Stories

Richards To Run For Sanders’ Seat

Councilman Throws Support Behind Protégé
By Miriam Rosenberg


Richards speaks at a recent protest meeting Richards speaks at a recent protest meeting Just days after City Councilman James Sanders Jr. won the Democratic primary for the state Senate’s 10th District, the first candidate looking to replace him in the City Council has thrown his hat in the ring. And it is not an unexpected one. Donovan Richards, who has worked for Sanders for 10 years, announced he would run in a special election that should take place after the New Year. Richards, 29, had already announced his intentions to run for Sanders’ seat when the new senator-elect would have been termlimited out of the City Council at the end of next year.

The timetable may have changed but not the objective. Sanders’ win last week forces Richards to speed things up. But he is ready.

“He [Sanders] always taught me to prepare myself,” Richards told the Daily News this week. “He’s lit that flame for me. I look forward to carrying the torch into the City Council.”


Donovan Richards, the chief of staff for Councilman and state Senator-elect James Sanders Jr., announced he would run in a special election to replace his friend and longtime mentor in the City Council. Donovan Richards, the chief of staff for Councilman and state Senator-elect James Sanders Jr., announced he would run in a special election to replace his friend and longtime mentor in the City Council. Working to help people began with, what could be called, a defining moment in Richards’ life in 2003. That was when his friend was shot and killed on a Jamaica street. Richards decided right then and there he would dedicate his life to public service to eradicate the kind of violence that ended his friend’s life. “When I walked down the aisle during the funeral my inner voice told me, do something with your life to save another young man and make a difference in your community,” said Richards, during an interview in 2008. A week later events began to fall into place. At a joint anti-violence meeting held by Mothers Against Guns and Councilman James Sanders Jr., Richards spoke about his friend and the violence that took him. Sanders gave him his business card and a few months later the 19- year-old was a member of the councilman’s staff. Eventually he moved up to district manager and now chief of staff. “He’s been my mentor for 10 years,” said Richards. “There’s very little he doesn’t know about me and that I don’t know about him.”

On his Facebook page on Sunday Sanders said, “Now it’s time to ensure we work hard for Donovan Richards to be elected to the city council seat that i’m [sic] vacating.” He then added, “He’s the right pick to replace me in the city council!”

This new fast track is, Richards believes, to his advantage.

“My opponents now have to go to the community and say what they’ve done,” Richards said. “Without a doubt this helps me.”

Of the three candidates who have announced to run in next November’s election for the 31st Council seat, Richards has raised the most money. According to New York City Campaign Finance Board records, as of the last reporting cycle ending on July 16, Richards has raised a total of $8,151 with $5,996 remaining.

Activist Jacque Leandre has raised $3,070 with a balance of $1,640 left. Ernest Flowers has raised $4,922 and is in the arrears with a minus $366 balance. Neither Leandre nor Flowers has yet declared to run in the special election for Sanders’ seat.

Another candidate may also jump into the race. According to The Yeshiva World News on September 14, the special election “will likely feature an orthodox Jewish candidate.”

The story called it an opportunity for the Jewish community in Far Rockaway “to demonstrate their influence on city politics and community by choosing a candidate for the seat.” Pesach Osina, a staff member for Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, is the name mentioned in the article as a possible candidate. It is expected that at the beginning of the year Mayor Bloomberg will call for a special election, probably to take place in February or March, to fill Sanders’ vacated seat.

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