Richard David took a leave of absence from his job at the Administration of Children’s Services on Valentine’s Day this year to run for the City Council District 28 seat vacated by Ruben Wills, a Jamaica Democrat who was sentenced to two to six years in prison on corruption charges in August.
David was also the youngest vice president of color at the city Economic Development Corporation and was responsible for managing over $2 billion in construction projects. Before the ACS, he was the executive director of Consumer Affairs.
David, a Democrat, wants to put his skills in the public sector to good use for the district he was raised in after he came to the United States from Guyana at age 10.
“My neighbors encouraged me to run because they’ve been familiar with my background,” David said. “I was reluctant, because I never thought I would run for public office, but I knew we deserve better representation than we had. The corruption was too much.”
Wills served three terms over the course of seven years. In 2010, he won the seat during a special election after his predecessor, Thomas White, Jr. died in office. He won again in 2011 to secure his position, and served nearly a full term after being re-elected a second time in 2013.
At 31, the South Ozone Park resident is the youngest candidate in this race. He hopes “to restore people’s trust in elected officials.”
David wants more community centers, better public transportation, participatory budgeting and improved education for School District 28. He wants to stop illegal dumping in the region, which covers Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, and the old stomping grounds of his youth in Jamaica. He also wants a tax commission to check how taxpayers’ money is being spent in the district.
“Everywhere across this district people are asking for community centers for youth and seniors,” David said.
He was responsible for 50 construction projects in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx at the EDC and wants to build youth centers with after-school STEM programs and senior centers that are sensitive to the diversity of people from different backgrounds.
To enhance public transportation, he wants count-down clocks that serve to alert people when buses are going to arrive.
“A lot of people say just download the app, but seniors are not tech savvy,” David said. “We can also figure a timing system where there is a sensor on the bus and on the count-down clock.”
The candidate believes this district does not have equity when it comes to how public funds are spent in District 28 and wants participatory budgeting, which allows the community to have a say. “It allows neighbors to identify what kind of project they want to see their councilman to pursue,” David said. “I’ve learned they want it to go more towards public schools.”
When it comes to education, David wants to get more parents engaged in public schools.
“The reality is that we don’t have anything in the neighborhood to help students succeed if they are not passing the math regents, and that is one of the reasons a lot of kids drop out of school,” he said. “I want afterschool programs to target the issues that kids are facing.”
Illegal dumping of old electronics is another issue plaguing the southeast Queens neighborhoods represented by the district.
He wants the Sanitation Department to increase recycling times for that type of disposal.
David is exasperated about taxes in southeast Queens.
“We pay some of the highest rates in taxes and it’s frustrating to not see any of those funds come to our neighborhood,” David said. “I want to set up a tax commission that would look at the equity among tax rates among the city.
“Our tax rates should be transparent, and they should be fair and equitable.”
David is the youngest of three brothers raised by a single mother who has two jobs. He wants to help people who are struggling financially.
“I want to focus on revitalizing Jamaica business zones so that people like my brother, who didn’t finish high school, can get a job as well,” David said.
“Those are the issues that are important to me, to my family and my neighbors, and that is why I am running for public office.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose