District 31 - Council Member - Democrat
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Council Member Richards

Donovan Richards Jr.

District 31 - Council Member - Democrat Chair - Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises

The 31st Council District encompasses the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, parts of Springfield Gardens, Bayswater, Hammels, Arverne, Edgemere, and Far Rockaway.

Appointed by Special Election: 3/13/13
Current Term Ending: 12/31/17

Greetings from CounCil Member Donovan Richards


Council Member Donovan Richards Jr., a lifelong resident of Southeast Queens and the Rockaways, was elected to the New York City Council in March 2013.

Richards was inspired to go into politics after he lost a childhood friend to gun violence at the age of 18.

Shortly after, he decided to be an intern for then-Council Member James Sanders Jr. He worked his way up to Chief of Staff for Sanders before running his own campaign for District 31 after Sanders became a state Senator.

Once Richards was elected, he was appointed to be the chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, which allowed him to address the decades-old systemic issue of flooding in Southeast Queens. As the first Black Council Member to chair the committee, Richards secured more than $1.5 billion to help fill the enormous sewer infrastructure hole in Southeast Queens. He also passed the first update to the city’s Air Code in forty years to help contribute to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. He co-chaired the Mayor’s One NYC plan as the only council member tapped to help coordinate the multi-agency citywide plan.

As he entered the second half of his term, Richards was appointed to be the chair of the Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. While Richards vowed to remain a champion for environmental justice, this opportunity provided him the chance to be at the center of Mayor de Blasio’s push for affordable housing across the city. Capital New York said on the day of the announcement of the new chairmanship that “after only a year-and-a-half as chairman of the City Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, Donovan Richards established something of a legacy.”

He started off strong in his new role with the goal of creating a new legacy. In his first committee meeting as chair, Richards proudly passed a text amendment to simplify and expedite the process of lifting and rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways, Southeast Queens, South Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Mayor’s Office on Recovery and Resiliency expects this amendment to help about 2,000 families rebuild their homes.

Moving forward as the chair of Zoning and Franchises, Richards vows to weigh all sides in upcoming zoning districts, as well as ensuring that the character of neighborhoods are preserved during the process while boosting density and invigorating the economies of communities. In March 2016, he helped negotiate a stronger, more inclusive affordable housing plan (MIH/ZQA) and made history when the Council passed the most aggressive affordable housing policy in the nation.

He is a member of the Committees on Economic Development, Environmental Protection, Land Use, Public Housing, Recovery and Resiliency and Transportation. He was selected to be on the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team, as well as a mayoral-appointee to the Tax-Lien Task Force and a speaker appointee to the board of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods.

While he continues to work towards improving the lives of all New Yorkers, he maintains an emphasis on serving the local constituents in District 31 to ensure that the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway receive the resources they deserve.