Caribbean American community advocate Diana Richardson on Tuesday handsomely won a four-way race in a special election for a seat in New York State Assembly.
Contesting the seat for the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn and running on the minority Working Families Party line, Richardson, 32 – whose mother, Hyacinth Bryson Richardson, was born in Aruba, and father, William Richardson, was born in St. Martin – won 50 percent of the votes, or 4045 votes, with 98 percent of the election precincts reporting.
Shirley Patterson, the Independence Party candidate, who was supported by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and the area’s State Senator, Jesse Hamilton, who represents the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, received 25 percent, or 1976 votes.
Menachem Raitport, the owner of a kosher butcher shop who won endorsements from Jewish leaders and ran on the Conservative and Republican Party lines, obtained 21 percent, or 1659 votes.
Geoffrey Davis, a Democratic district leader and community activist, who ran as the candidate of a party he created, Love Yourself, won 4 percent, or 306 votes.
The special election was called to replace African American Assemblyman Karim Camara, who resigned in January to take up a new position with the administration of New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The district comprises the Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens sections of Brooklyn.
“We won!” Richardson, who lives in Crown Heights, told a victory party Tuesday night at the Golden Hall, at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal (Anglican) Church, in Crown Heights.
“I’m so tired,” she added, flanked by jubilant supporters, including an array of elected local officials and union members who had endorsed her. “The political arena is not so nice. They’re going to get ready for Diana Richardson.”
“I’m so grateful, I’m so thankful,” continued the mother of one, 12-year-old Isaac Bowen, who joined her at the podium. “And the no. 1 person we thank is God.
“I put this race in God’s hands,” Richardson said. “Not only did we win, we won 2-1. This is for the community. I’m so happy about what is going to happen in the 43rd (Assembly District).”
Richardson was supported by Caribbean American legislators – U.S. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; her mother Jamaican-born Una S.T. Clarke, a former New York City Councilwoman, who was the first Caribbean-born woman to hold elective office in the City; Grenadian American Councilman Jumaane Williams; and Haitian American Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte.
Richardson also received the endorsements of many other prominent elected officials, including New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, as well as African Americans State Senator Kevin Parker and Assembly Member Latrice Walker.
Additionally, she was heavily backed by the labor community. Her endorsements included: TWU Local 100, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU 32BJ, DC 37, and HAAPA-PAC (Haitian American Association for Political Action), Planned Parenthood NYC Votes, New York State Nurses Association, Make The Road Action Fund and New York City District Council of Carpenters.
“When I gave birth to her [on Jan. 16, 1983, at 2:31 p.m.], I never knew she would become an Assemblywoman,” Hyacinth Bryson Richardson, who flew from her Florida home to help in her daughter’s campaign, told Caribbean Life amid the celebration.
With a strong passion for community, Richardson said she has worked to improve the overall welfare of her neighbors through “raising awareness on key issues that continue to affect” her neighborhood.
While earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY), she said she discovered her passion for public service.
Richardson subsequently obtained her Master of Public Administration degree, with a concentration in Policy Analysis and Evaluation, from the School of Public Affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College.
She began her career in the New York State Senate, serving as the director of Constituent Affairs in the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn, which is headed by Parker.
Richardson is an executive member of Community Board 9 in Brooklyn; the American Society of Public Administration; and the Brooklyn-based Progressive Democratic Political Association (PDPA), headed by the elder Clarke.
“As a community, we can work towards creating living wage jobs, better schools, and we can develop a quality community center that will address a multitude of community needs,” she said, promising to address housing, youth, seniors, health care and economic development, among other issues.
“I’m so excited,” City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, of District 16 in the Bronx, told Caribbean Life amid the cacophony Tuesday night. “I’m so overwhelmed with so much pride.
“Diana is one who’ll make us proud,” added Gibson, who was Richardson’s classmate at Baruch College and who traces her roots to Trinidad and Tobago. “She’ll be a true champion for the people.”