2005-06-03 / Letters

Strange Move, Even For A Political Organization

It is highly unusual for a political party to renounce its own incumbent by choosing another candidate to run for his or her office under the party banner. That is just what has happened to City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., who represents the eastern portion of Rockaway as well as other communities in Southeast Queens. The arguments for putting Far Rockaway activist David Hooks on the ballot are clear. The Queens Democratic Party says that Sanders has been unresponsive to community concerns, including requests for meetings. They say that he is aloof towards his constituents and towards community leaders. They say that nobody in his offices at City Hall, in Rockaway and in Laurelton answer calls and callbacks when contact is made are rare. Sanders says that he is being replaced because he “does not kiss the ring often enough,” that he does not kowtow to party officials often enough. He told The Wave recently that, as the chair of the prestigious Economic Development Committee, he has “brought home the bacon for Rockaway as well as for Southeast Queens.” Now, Sanders has put himself in hot water with one of his most important constituent groups in Far Rockaway – the Orthodox Jewish community – by joining ex-Black Panther Charles Barron in his move to get clemency for Joanne Chesimard, the ex-Panther who was found guilty of killing a police officer before she fled to Cuba and was granted asylum there many years ago. Sanders told The Wave on Tuesday that he was pulling his name off the introduction because Barron told him it would seek only a “fair trial” for Chesimard, not a move for clemency. Sanders, however, has been in bed with Barron before – most notably on the issue of repatriations for black Americans due to slavery and their demand that companies who dealt in the slavery business in the mid-1800’s be made to pay for it today. What will the change in candidates mean for Rockaway? That is hard to tell. Just chalk it up to a stranger-than-usual political story, one of the many that seem to impact Rockaway in election years.

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