2006-01-20 / Front Page

Sanders Loses Economic Development Chair

Democratic City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. was stripped this week of the prestigious chair of the council's Economic Development Committee, a move that he says was due to his support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican and his defeat of the party's handpicked candidate in last November's election.

On Wednesday, the new City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, announced committee assignments for the coming year.

It came as no surprise to Sanders that he was not assigned as the chair of any of the myriad of committees.

"I went with the mayor [in his reelection bid], I did not support Quinn for speaker. I fought the party in the last election and I won. When you buck the party like that, you have to take what goes with that," Sanders told The Wave on Wednesday afternoon. "I was offered the chair of other committees, but If I couldn't have Economic Development, I didn't want anything else."

The Far Rockaway native and Marine Corps veteran sees some pluses in his loss, however,

"There was a lot of criticism of me in the past election for not being accessible to my constituents," Sanders said. "Some of that was justified. All politics is local and I failed to remember that. Chairing the Economic Development Committee kept me in Manhattan in many cases. I didn't respond to my district."

Now, he says, he is free to spend more time in the district and to "focus on relationships with those who elected me."

"The ED chair tied me to Manhattan," he added. "It was impossible to focus on the district's needs."

Sanders will sit on three committees: Civil Rights, Technology and Government, and Women's Issues.

Joseph Addabbo, Jr., the other city councilman who represents a portion of Rockaway, will retain his chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. At his request, he has moved from seats on the Contracts Committee and Consumer Affairs Committee to the Public Safety Committee and the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee.

Addabbo says that he was "surprised" that Sanders was removed from his committee chair.

He said that Sanders took the demotion "like a gentleman" and that his speech on the council floor focused on the time he would now spend in his district.

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