New Rochelle's 'saint'
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:30 p.m.
At age 11, Richard St. Paul says he knew he wanted to be a public servant. Today at age 33, he serves as the youngest sitting City Council member in New Rochelle, carving himself a bright political future while living his dream.
A native of the Bronx, St. Paul also grew up in New Jersey, where he attended middle school and high school. While in school, he had a fascination for social studies, leading him to aim for a career in politics.
"I wanted to be in Congress, and when I started studying all of the people who were serving in Congress, I noticed that they were all lawyers," he said.
With that in mind, St. Paul attended Widener University in Pennsylvania, where he launched his political career by running the student congress, doing an internship on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Chaka Fattah and working in the office of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. St. Paul was also on his college football team.
After getting his law degree, he moved to New Rochelle, serving as a campaign manager for a friend running for public office. St. Paul took a liking to the city and decided to stay.
He is currently a licensed attorney in New York State and the District of Columbia, practicing in the areas of civil rights, voter rights and general litigation. St. Paul is also a member of the New Rochelle Bar Association. Previously, he spent several years with the U.S. Army Reserves and Judge Advocate General Legal Service Organization.
With his strong legal education behind him, he became involved in New Rochelle's NAACP chapter, where he served as legal adviser and as counsel to the New Rochelle Voters Rights Defense Fund. St. Paul has defended several cases and considers voting rights crucial to the framework of American freedom.
He said, "I'm very passionate about protecting those freedoms. We owe it to those who came before us."
A member of the Republican Party, St. Paul has worked on several political campaigns, including the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. St. Paul served as the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) legal director in West Virginia. As the HAVA legal director, he was tasked with recruiting and training attorneys in the area of West Virginia election law.
In 2007, his long-awaited dream came true when he ran for City Council in New Rochelle. He was elected councilman, representing New Rochelle's 4th District, where he has a constituency of over 15,000.
"It's been very rewarding to be able to have influence in the policies that can affect people's lives in a very positive way," he said. "Since I've been councilman, we've improved the quality of life for people."
New Rochelle is the seventh largest city in New York State and lies in Westchester County, which has the highest taxes in the nation. St. Paul is working on ways to increase New Rochelle's tax base in an effort to reduce the burden on taxpayers. He's also looking for ways to improve small businesses and detour young people from getting involved in negative things.
As for the future, St. Paul said he wants to focus on finishing out the rest of his term as a councilman, which ends next year.
"My goal when I was young was to become a statesman, and I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "I work for the people who elected me. Who knows what the future holds?"