In Brooklyn’s 55th Assembly District Caribbean-American Businessman Offers His Candidacy
“Royston Antoine Is People’s Favorite
A grate leader once said that, “if greatness is possible then excellence is not enough”. Together we can change things, and ride on the road of excellence says Royston.
By Mark Sinclair
Royston “Roy” Antoine is easily one of the most popular and well-liked persons in Brooklyn’s 55Assembly District. After all he’s had a store on Pitkin Avenue for over 25 years and his easy, down-to-earth manner has earned him the affectionate name “Uncle Roy.” He’s definitely not a political Albert Einstein and he makes no pretensions to this. He knows that he is a first-timer who lacks experience. But what he lacks in political experience he makes up in a willingness to work hard, meet people and still find time to do community work.
“I was born in St. Vincent and my parents always told me about the virtues of hard work. I’m a quick learner. I believe that everyone in the race has more experience than me. But look what political experience got us – high levels of alcoholism, especially among our youths; high crime, high unemployment where more than 40 percent of the district is on some form of public assistance, high drug use, high female headed single parent households and chronic health problems,” Uncle Roy said.
He says that he might not have the experience but he has a plan for the district. Royston said that “too many politicians just want to get elected and when they get in office there is no plan, no follow through to make good on promises.” The Brooklyn Democrat said that his background in business and community work made him uniquely qualified for the job of Assemblyman for the 55th Assembly District.
Uncle Roy noted that under the “Boyland Dynasty” unemployment, especially among the youth, in the 55th Assembly District is one of the highest in New York City. It has been pegged at 13%. What this means is that with an average population of 167,000 people living in the district, approximately 21,710 residents are unemployed. As a result of this high unemployment figures nearly 40% of the entire population are on some form of public assistance.
“The truth of the matter is that job-growth and development is predicated upon private sector development and investment in our community. The City Council by itself cannot and does not create jobs. But we can foster a better climate to do business that can translate into employment opportunities. That starts with a person who can be trusted and who can build bridges of understanding between community and business sector that allow them to become involved in the process of community economics,” Uncle Roy explained.
The 55th Assembly District ranks at the bottom of the pile when it comes to health disparities, outcomes and how much health-related resources that the community receives. From unacceptably high levels of HIV/AIDS to a spiraling out of control diabetes, juvenile asthma, alcoholism, hypertension, cancers of all kinds and other opportunistic diseases the health care picture is very bleak indeed.
Uncle Roy acknowledged that “there are no easy answers to dealing with the problem of health care in the district. But I believe that we can deal this issue a strong blow by harnessing the collective resources that we presently have after taking a comprehensive look at healthcare in the district.” He said that at the top of the list of things to do must be community health education and the promotion of alternative healthy lifestyles.
“All these things can be addressed with a little bit of political will. We must elect representative who will demand that we get our fair share of healthcare resources and that we continue to strengthen and develop new programs that bring quality, affordable healthcare to all the residents of the 55Assembly District,” is how he put it.
He also took aim at what he called “a dangerous negative spin-off of systemic poverty, neglect and substance abuse.” Uncle Roy said that he has a “Zero Tolerance” for domestic violence of any and all kinds.
He favors strong law enforcement and stiff penalties for guilty offenders but said that “we must act to attack this problem at its root.” Uncle Roy said that poverty, unemployment compounded by alcoholism and drug use leads to domestic violence against women, seniors and children. By attacking poverty and removing those things that encourage domestic violence “we can start to make people respect each other and stop settling differences with physical blows.”
“At the same time I would advocate strengthening family intervention programs and counseling that help families in crises and those that recommend remedial therapies for offenders as part of a package of legal tools that both victims of domestic violence and perpetrators must attend. I will also seek the help of the clergy in helping families and
Individuals cope in times of family stress when individuals are more prone to lash out at others in frustration or due to depression,” Uncle Roy said.
More than thirty five years ago ROYSTON ANTOINE decided to make New York City his home. And starting from humble beginnings he realized that with hard work, dedication and commitment to what he believed in he could live out the American Dream. Today, there are very few mountains that he has not climbed; fewer battled that he has not won.
Starting as a cost analyst with a number of companies and gaining the experience and knowledge about New York City’s commerce Uncle Roy decided to go into business for himself in 1981. That year he opened his first clothing store and has never looked back ever since. Over the next 30 years his Pitkin Avenue business would provide quality goods and merchandize to the community as well as employment for a number of community residents.
He has remained a fixture of the 55th Assembly District through the good times and the not so good times always keeping an abiding faith in the creative spirit of the people and in God. It is from that vantage point that Uncle Roy has seen the “good, bad, the ugly and the indifferent” in the 55th Assembly District. He has seen politicians come and go.
Over the years he’s fostered better community and police relations by his unique ability to communicate with people. He says that this quality was developed through his long years in business and the need to deal with people of different nationalities, religious persuasions, classes and creeds. His involvement in the community runs the gamut from mobilizing and organizing merchants and businesses, working with the youths, organizing events with the clergy, and reaching out to the “ordinary Joe” on the street.
It was through these activities that the community christened him “Uncle Roy” – a name that has stuck to him up to this day. In fact, the name suggests both the honor and affection that the community has for this remarkable and humble leader. Along the way Uncle Roy has won many awards including the “National Leadership Award” that conferred on him the position of “Honorary Chairman of the Business Advisory Council,” and the “Merchant of Year Award (1991) from the 73rd Precinct Community Council.
He has received accolades for his philanthropic work from the clergy of the 55th Assembly District as well as the business community. It is true to say that Uncle Roy did not choose politics but “Politics chose him.” He believes that his unique combination of business activism and community leadership coupled with the trust and love that the community has for him would allow him to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Uncle Roy is a true “People’s Politician” – a grassroots leader who mixes caring, love for community, and an abiding faith in God as the formula to engage and involve the people of the 55th Assembly District in community re-development and empowerment.