By Lindsay Schubiner
PUBLISHED JUNE 30, 2005
Community Board 9 District Manager Lawrence McClean announced recently that he will take a leave of absence to run for a Queens City Council seat.
McClean, who lives in South Ozone Park, will challenge Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) in the 28th District, which encompasses Jamaica and Ozone Park north of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Jennings was formally censured by the City Council in May after inquiries into accusations that he sexually harassed female staffers. McClean, 55, is the eighth candidate to show interest in the seat, according to fillings with the City's Campaign Finance Board. McClean will seek the Democratic nomination in the September 13 primary.
"We cannot afford another four years of the kind of lack of service and lack of vision that we've been getting from our elected officials," McClean said. "I feel I can better serve that community. I know I can better serve it."
A long history of community-based activism has helped him crystallize his platform, McClean said. He emphasized a shortfall in city funding for his district and said he would push to increase allocations for basic services such as buses and police and fire departments. McClean also discussed how his experiences working at CB9 and cooperating with different neighborhoods in Brooklyn have shown him that the problems in his district correspond to larger issues that affect minority communities all over New York.
Accordingly, McClean said he believes his district will be disproportionately affected by the deficits city budget officials have projected for future fiscal years. He criticized Jennings for not providing effective leadership.
"He's not doing anything and we're about to lose everything," McClean said.
If McClean does not win the election, he will return to work at CB9 in July or September, depending on whether he obtains the legally required number of signatures to have his name placed on the ballot. �In the meantime, other CB9 staff members have divided up his duties. The board will begin looking for a new district manager in the fall if he is elected.
CB9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said he was "super excited" that McClean was running and had few worries about how the office would function in his absence. At CB9, McClean is responsible for handling complaints, assisting board members, and making sure CB9's services reach the community.
"If he wins, then we have a friend in City Council," Reyes-Montblanc said.
McClean has worked at CB9 for 13 years. He attended Howard University and received a degree in public administration from Queens College. He previously worked for the Rockaway Merchants' Association and the Rockaway Boulevard West Local Development Corporation.
McClean has not raised very much money for his campaign--just over $500 compared to another opponent's $50,000--but said that he was focusing his immediate efforts on getting enough signatures to be listed on the ballot. If he is successful, McClean is confident that he will win "because I have a message that the community will understand and because I have a track record."
"They'll understand that what I'm saying is who I am," McClean said.