STATEN ISLAND — A retired boxer and public affairs officer for the Army — who lives in Brooklyn and plans to run as a Democrat — plans to run to unseat Republican Dan Donovan of his congressional seat next year.
Boyd Melson, 35, who is now in the reserves, has never called Staten Island home, but said he has deep ties with family and friends who live in Staten Island and spent much of his formative years there. He recently moved to Bensonhurst, which is part of the 11th Congressional District, which also covers Staten Island.
"I'm here, this is who I care about, and they're facing the greatest challenge right now out of all the boroughs," said Melson, who runs boxing clinics in Staten Island for people fighting addiction. "I want to go to the fire. I'm a fighter."
Melson is currently registered to vote at his old Manhattan address under the Independent party, the New York Observer reported.
In a telephone interview, Melson said he moved in with his mother in Bensonhurst in July and thought he updated his voter registration to switch parties. He said he found out Monday it didn't change and updated it.
He said he's planning to move to Bay Ridge soon and will run as a Democrat against Donovan, who defeated Bay Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile to first win the seat. Melson described his political views as "highly moderate" and more central.
"I come to the table wanting to find a medium," said Melson.
Even though Donovan easily won both of his races for the seat, he has come under fire from residents on both sides of the bridge for his refusal to hold a town hall meeting. The Observer previously called the 11th District the most competitive district in the state.
Still, Melson faces an uphill battle to win the district, which has been represented by Staten Island residents since 1982 when it was redrawn to include Bay Ridge. That year, Guy Moilnari won the newly expanded district over Bay Ridge representative Leo C. Zeferetti, the New York Times reported.
If elected, Melson said he plans to fight for veteran care and everyday issues that affect residents such as safety and jobs.
Melson, whose mother is Jewish and father is Louisiana Creole, grew up in a military family in Brooklyn and moved to White Plains when he was in 11th grade. He graduated from West Point in 2003 then served in the military.
When he returned to New York two years ago, he settled in Manhattan then moved to Bensonhurst in July. He spent much of that time traveling while on duty with the reserves.
He was a professional boxer from 2010 until he retired last year with a 15-2-1 record and won the junior middleweight World Boxing Council's U.S. Champion in 2015.
Melson said he only stepped in the ring to help people and donated all of his earnings to various causes like spinal cord research and opioid addiction. Aside from work and teaches boxing classes, he gives motivational speeches at school and various events across the country.
He also went to Albany and Washington D.C. to lobby for the survival of a bill that diverts speeding-ticket fees in the state to spinal cord research. His frustrations with that experience led him to decide to run for office.
"I'm sick of tired of always being the one asking and never being the one asked," said Melson.
"I want to get into office so I can use this fire inside and try to make change at a bigger level."