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CB 12 member aims for Wills’ council seat

Longtime community activist David Kayode said he is fed up with all the problems in southeast Queens and the best way to tackle those issues is to be in tune with the neighborhood’s needs.

Kayode is one of five candidates who will be challenging City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) in next month’s Democratic primary in the special election for the 28th Council District. The 57-year-old father of five said his experiences in various sectors, from spiritual and political, give him a keen insight into the community and he already has ideas on how to improve the quality of life in the area.

“I have been with this neighborhood for a long time. I know how to fix the problems,” he said.

Kayode, who is a member of Community Board 12, currently works as a substance abuse adviser at a clinic in Brooklyn and is an ordained minister. He moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1973 at the age of 25 to further his education. He went on to several educational institutions and earned several degrees, including a master’s in school administration from Kean University in New Jersey in 1989.

Kayode said one of his top priorities is boosting the economy in the district, which includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale and South Ozone Park.

The challenger said the city is giving too much help to big businesses to set up shop in inner city neighborhoods, but he wants more money to go to small businesses. He also emphasized increased outreach to the growing number of families struggling with foreclosures in southeast Queens.

“Not all of the people who lost their homes were stupid. They were good homeowners who lost their home because of bad people taking advantage of them,” Kayode said.

In terms of education, Kayode said he would push for the city Department of Education to get parents more involved in educational decisions. He said he would find a way to have the city promote and give more funding to trade schools for students who may not be qualified for college.

More options for young people in the area will benefit the community in many ways, according to Kayode.

“There is a saying that if you want to reform, you must be informed,” he said.

Kayode will be facing off against Wills, who won last year’s special election for the seat; Clifton Stanley Diaz; Michael Duvalle; Stephen Jones; and former Councilman Allan Jennings in the Sept. 13 primary. The winner of the election will fill the two years that were left on Councilman Thomas White’s term before he died last August.

Kayode, who worked as a legislative aide to White for a number of years, said he would like to continue White’s legacy to the southeast Queens residents and would use the experience he learned to lead efficiently.

“I know that if I am elected to City Council, I will represent the people with sincerity,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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