2013-03-01 / Top Stories

Richards Wins City Council Seat

By Miriam Rosenberg

Donovan Richards Donovan Richards He got 4000 signatures on his petitions. His campaign raised nearly $130,000 and came in number one in fundraising among the candidates. He received 18 union endorsements and 60 community leaders pledge of support. But the special election for the 31st city council district seat came down to the counting of absentee and affidavit ballots that were tallied one week after the February 19 vote.

Donovan Richards won the city council seat held by his former boss, State Senator James Sanders Jr., when all the votes were finally counted on Wednesday. Richards beat his closest competitor, Pesach Osina, by 80 votes.

“We have a lot of work to do in the district,” Richards told The Wave via Facebook on Wednesday. “We have to also make sure we reconcile the communities. I think that it’s important that all communities are working together. You know, Pesach ran a great campaign, I have no ill will towards him and I look forward to working with every community.”

On election night Richards led Osina by a mere 26 votes, 2,513 to 2,487 votes. Richards told The Wave on Wednesday that he picked up 133 votes during the paper ballot count.

As for the so-called malfunctioning scanner memory stick that halted the vote count on the evening of the election, it turns out it was from a machine that had been damaged upon arrival at the polling site. The scanner and sticks in it were never used in the election.

Richards came to politics because of tragedy. In March, 2003 a childhood friend, Darnell Patterson, was fatally gunned down on a Jamaica street. It was then the councilman-elect decided 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.

Soon afterward he met Sanders at a Mothers Against Guns event. A few months later the 19-year-old was a member of the councilman’s staff. Eventually he moved up to district manager and chief of staff. He has lived in Far Rockaway and Arverne and currently lives with his wife in Springfield Gardens.

In 2008 he announced he would run against the incumbent assemblyperson, Michele Titus, for her seat in the assembly. Titus’ campaign challenged his petitions and the court ruled he did not have the 500 signatures needed to be on the ballot.

The results of the February 19th election will not be official until the Board of Election certifies them, possibility as soon as Tuesday. But the margin of victory ensures that there will not be a recount, which would be automatic if the margin were 0.5 percent of less.

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