As Legal Aid public defender Kelvin Richards, a Liberian enters the North Shore City Council race

By Sydney Kashiwagi | |

Kelvin Richards is a resident of New Brighton and works as a public defender for Legal Aid Society.

STATEN ISLAND — Public Defender and New Brighton resident Kelvin Richards wants to take his experience in the courtroom to serve as an advocate for North Shore residents as its next City Council member.

He said his passion for public service began when he was in a refugee camp in Ghana after he and his family fled from conflict from the Liberian civil war. He said watching United Nations aid workers help other refugees in camp inspired him to give back.

Richards immigrated to the North Shore in 2003 and quickly assimilated into the borough’s Liberian American community before he set off to pursue a legal career.

He started off his career in Minnesota before he returned to New York City in 2013 to work for legal aid as a public defender.

“I intend to continue the journey from the courthouse to City Hall to advocate for the North Shore,” He said. “I want to advocate on behalf of the North Shore to bring more funding to this district, to improve transportation, to improve education and to improve the economic development of the North Shore.”

If elected, Richards said he wants to work with the Department of Transportation to improve traffic on the North Shore, ensure North Shore students graduate from high school and strike a balance between development and investing in small businesses and creating affordable housing.

Before he decided to run for Councilwoman Debi Rose’s soon-to-be-vacant City Council seat she will be term-limited out of come 2021, Richards led a number of community petitions that forced the city to make needed upgrades to North Shore.

One petition Richards launched got the city to bring more speed bumps to Park Hill, another led to the installation of turf on the Stapleton playground.

As a public defender, he said he has been on the front lines of the opioid crisis and helped get struggling addicts into treatment programs and get clean.

“I’m the better candidate because I have a passion for public service, I have the credentials and I’ve done work in the community and I’m always working to improve the lives of people around me,” he said.

The race for Rose’s seat is getting off to a crowded start, with four Democratic candidates already stepping up to try to claim it come 2021.

North Shore resident Philippe Marius, the twin brother of Richard-Olivier Marius, the first Democrat to announce plans to challenge Rep. Max Rose in the Democratic primary, is running for the North Shore City Council seat.


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