CB9 elects new district manager
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Dec 26, 2018 | 3233 views | 0 0 comments | 200 200 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Community Board 9 elected a new district manager at its monthly meeting earlier this month.

The board, which covers Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, selected James McClelland in a three-way race. He will being in early January.

McClelland has been involved with local politics for much of his career following a stint in the Army. He served as an intern for then-councilwoman Melinda Katz, joking that he was the oldest intern in City Council history at the age of 35.

He also served as chief of staff to both State Senator Simcha Felder, Councilman Peter Koo and former councilman Anthony Como.

Later, he worked as an advisor for State Senator Marty Goldman of Brooklyn, who lost his re-election bid last month. McClelland has also served as a political consultant for various elected officials.

McClelland first ran for district manager in 2015, but lost by two votes to Lisa Somes. Somes recently stepped down from the position due to health concerns.

In this year’s race, McClelland’s competitors were Sal Simonetti, Councilman Eric Ulrich’s former aide, and Jessica Douglas, director of Mayor de Blasio’s Queens Community Affairs Unit.

“I’ve always been interested in public service and this is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” McClelland said. “When the opportunity came, I wanted to go for it, especially because it’s my hometown.”

McClelland, who grew up in Richmond Hill, attended P.S. 62 and Richmond Hill High School, eventually marrying his high school sweetheart. The couple now lives in Middle Village.

“I’m a Queens boy,” he said. “I live on a block where there’s a crematorium on the corner and a cemetery in my backyard, so I figured I’m not going anywhere.”

Before his political career, McClelland worked in construction project management. He was working downtown during the 9/11 attacks, and while walking home on the Manhattan Bridge he thought to himself, “life was too short to do something you hate.”

Some of the issues that McClelland hopes to tackle in his new position include helping small businesses who are facing unfair fines, battling overdevelopment, and fighting the planned community jail in Kew Gardens.

“I don’t think there should be a jail in any of the five boroughs,” McClelland said. “I think we should modernize Rikers Island and make it not just safe for our Corrections officers, but also the inmates. I don’t think we should be putting jails in residential areas.”

McClelland said there are a lot of issues facing Queens residents, from taxes and crimes to cleanliness and homelessness.

“Hopefully I can bring my political knowledge and drive to serve the community board,” said McClelland.
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