By LEANNA BURTON
Incumbents won two southern Queens races for City Council that focused on issues ranging from stop-and-frisk to transportationy.
Council member Erich Ulrich, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Lew Simon in a South Ozone Park district. With nearly all precincts counted, Ulrich led with 53 percent of the vote.
And in Far Rockaway, Democratic incumbent Donovan Richards defeated Republican opponent Scherie Murray with 92 percent of the vote.
Simon was making a second attempt to defeat Ulrich in the 32nd District.
Robert Taylor, a 61-year-old retired teacher living in the South Ozone Park area, said he supports Ulrich’s stances on paid sick leave and raising the state minimum wage.
“He wants to make sure that someone like myself, after working for 30 years, would be taken care of in case of illness or early retirement,” Taylor said.
Ulrich, an Ozone Park native, won his seat in a special election in 2009. He was supported by the United Federation of Teachers and the Small Business Coalition.
An October poll Conducted by Prime New York reported that Ulrich had a 63 percent approval rating and a 28-point lead over Simon less than two weeks before the race.
Since Simon’s unsuccessful bid for City Council in 2009, his campaign had become more organized, according to campaign staff member Dana Lewis.
“I have been working on this campaign since 2009 – knocking on doors and sending out flyers and speaking with members of the community,” Lewis said. “I know that we have never been more focused on the community and its issues.”
Simon, who had criticized Ulrich as having a poor attendance record at Borough Board and council meetings, told QueensPolitics.com that he intended to head a parks and recreation committee. He has also expressed interest in extending train service in Queens.
In the 31st District, Richards was leading Murray. The Associated Press released a poll in October that noted Donovan had an approval rating of 59 percent.
The candidates have differed on whether to pass more laws to monitor police action.
In an October news conference, Murray spoke against introductory bills 1079 and 1080, which were passed by City Council in August to introduce more internal control of the Police Department and regulate stop-and-frisk procedures.
“The NYPD already has integrity control, field control, a host of district attorneys and an Internal Affairs bureau,” Murray said. “The NYPD has enough oversight.”
Richards, who rallied for the implementation of the bills, recalled an incident years ago which serves as background for his position on the subject.
As a teenager I was stopped and frisked without any evidence of law-breaking,” he said. “I was cuffed and searched and not given a chance to explain myself … Now I have to take the chance to do something about it.”
Richards and Murray also proposed different approaches to public and private education.
“I benefited from the strong academics and support within New York City’s college system, but when I look at our public school system currently, I see that the growth rate for our kids is really lacking, and they are not transitioning to higher education,” said Murray, who received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from CUNY’s New York City College of Technology.
Murray advocated the opening of more charter schools and offering more vouchers for such schools to high school students,
Richards said he wants to see less focus on charter schools and more on the quality of public schools. “Many charter schools can provide excellent educational benefits,” he said. “But what happens to the public school students who need resources and funding? We need to look out for them too.”
Patrick Seymour, a Queens resident who has been working as an organizer for Richards’ campaign since 2012, said he appreciates the campaign’s efforts regarding youth education, especially the focus on new libraries in the district and education funding.
“He is in touch with the community issues and more so the youth in our community,” Seymour said. “He understands that change must start with the youth and young adults.”
Photo: Erich Ulrich