Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wills Begins His First Says in City Council by by Ivan Pereira - Queens Campaigner

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Ruben Wills is welcomed into the City Hall's chambers during his first day in office. Photo courtesy of NYC Council (William-Alatriste-New-York-City-Council)
City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) started his term as the new member of City Hall’s Queens delegation last week and he said he has been busy finding ways to solve his southeast Queens district’s biggest problems.
Wills was officially inaugurated Nov. 30 during a special ceremony at City Hall and he will hold a community inauguration this Saturday at York College. Wills said he has had no time to celebrate his election to the seat, which was held by Councilman Thomas White until his death in August, and he has already hit the ground running.
“It’s been incredible. I’ve been going 100 mph,” he said.
Wills has been abstaining from voting on legislation for the time being since he was not part of earlier public hearing sessions associated with bills.
“I would be doing my constituents a disservice by voting on things I didn’t have knowledge about,” he said.
In the meantime, Wills said he is spending time letting his constituents come to him and provide feedback on Council District 28, which includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Rochdale Village.
Wills’ district office at Sutphin Boulevard and 95th Avenue is in the process of being created, so in the meantime he and his staff will operate out of White’s former office at 137-42 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in South Ozone Park. His office’s current phone number is 718-528-5712.
Wills said he chose the Sutphin Boulevard location as his headquarters not only because it is in the center of the district, but also because it is close to major public transportation hubs such as the Long Island Rail Road.
“We wanted to keep the campaign promise that we would be accessible in the district,” he said.
The councilman has already started work on legislation that he said would help curb the foreclosure problem in southeast Queens. The neighborhoods of Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens lead the state in the number of foreclosed homes and the problem is getting worse, according to Wills.
The bill is still in the early stages, but Wills said he would get into the chambers as soon as possible.
“We need to deal with the foreclosure problem now. I don’t want this drafted and looked at for months, I want it passed,” he said.
Wills won the special election last month to fill the seat vacated by White, who was just months into his second term when he died of cancer in August.
The community activist was one of seven candidates who ran in the special non-partisan election for the District 28 seat and won with 3,347 votes, roughly 31 percent of the total vote during the election. Others who were vying for the seat included Nicole Paultre-Bell, the fiancee of police shooting victim Sean Bell, former Councilman Alan Jennings and Albert Baldeo.
Wills will serve the office for a year and face an election next year to keep his seat, according to the rules in the City Charter. The winner of that election will serve out the rest of the term until 2014.
The councilman said he has also received a helping hand from Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who have shown him the ins and outs of City Hall. He noted, however, that his years working for elected officials such as Comrie and state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) have geared him up for this moment and he is ready to take the challenge of leading the community head-on.
“I know the experience I was equipped with … it really has been helping me,” he said.