BY BENJAMIN FANG
As the Democratic nominee for Queens borough president, Donovan Richards emerged victorious from a field of five candidates after a hard-fought primary.
Although he said he’s excited about moving ahead to the general election in November, the southeast Queens councilman is already looking forward to tackling the challenges facing Queens, from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic downturn.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said. “Our borough is facing immense challenges pertaining to COVID and the underlying disparities that have existed for a long time, that have shown their ugly heads.”
His first priority is to “stop the bleeding.” Richards pointed out that the city is not out of the woods yet on COVID-19. He wants to ensure hospitals have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and resources in case of another surge in infections.
The resulting economic crisis has resulted in rising food insecurity. Richards said with unemployment rising and small businesses struggling, he wants the city to focus on pockets of the borough where people are choosing between a meal and paying rent.
The Democratic nominee also anticipates a surge in homelessness, highlighting the need for affordable housing even more.
“Anything we can do to strengthen the food network is an immediate priority,” he said.
In terms of the economy, Richards predicted that it won’t pick up for another three to four years until the city returns to some sense of normalcy. He’s already seeing more “For Rent” signs in major commercial corridors.
What doesn’t help the borough’s recovery, he said, is only getting 9 percent of the city’s loans and grants, which he said is unacceptable. At Borough Hall, his job will be steering the proper city agencies to the table and making the case for greater resources for Queens.
“We have to fight for it,” he said. “We’re fighting for the soul of our borough.”