Challengers Stay In Race For Council Seat
Those who had their sights set on the city council seat currently held by Councilman James Sanders Jr. are not letting the extension of term-limits get in their way, according to a survey taken by The Wave of those who had declared their candidacy for the 31st Councilmanic seat before that law was changed last month. It does not look like good news for Sanders, insiders say.
Before the October 23 city council vote changing term limits from two to three terms for elected officials in New York, six people had declared their candidacy for Sanders' seat. Marq Claxton, David Hooks (who lost the Democratic primary to Sanders in 2005) and Fred Lewis have all confirmed to this paper that they are still in the race. Boomie Pinter and Valerie West are undecided about continuing their run. Andrea Sanders, the councilman's wife, also declared her candidacy prior to the vote but is expected to drop out because her husband is back in the race.
Claxton, who is a member of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, said in a November 12 e-mail to The Wave, "I am definitely still running. I am in this race until the end." He added in another e-mail, "The current councilman not only voted in opposition to his constituents, but in support of the Mayor's congestion pricing plan and he also voted with the Mayor to ignore his constituents who twice voted for eight year term limits for city elected officials." Lewis echoed Claxton's sentiments.
In a letter to the editor he said that those who voted with the mayor on the term limits issue, including Sanders, has "declared that the public's decision on two occasions to vote for term-limits did not matter."
Valerie West, the district leader for the 31st Council District - Part A, said she is leaning toward dropping out of the race.
"I haven't made a final decision, but I am gearing toward not to run," said West.
Boomie Pinter said he wouldn't rule anything out. "I may get a call from [Washington]. You can't say no to the president," said Pinter, adding there is "a long time until then [the election]."
In a meeting with The Wave's managing editor and this reporter, Sanders said he believes he would win re-election handily. He also explained that he voted for the measure to extend term limits in hopes of securing a vocational school for the Rockaways.
Prior to passing the new law on October 23, the city council voted on an amendment to the term limits bill for the people of New York City to decide the issue in a third referendum.
Voters had previously passed referendums in 1993 and 1996 limiting elected city officials to two terms in office. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 28-22. According to the New York Times, Sanders was the only council member to abstain on that vote.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the city council to expand term limits because of his belief that the city needs him to guide it during this time of economic strife. The new law clears the way for Bloomberg and others holding city office to run for third terms.
According to Donovan Richards, Sanders' district manager, the councilman was still feeling poorly from his car accident earlier this month and was unable to provide comment for this article.