2009-08-28 / Top Stories

Leandre, Lewis And Sanders Ask For Vote For CC Nom.

By Miriam Rosenberg

As the primaries on September 15 edge closer, candidates for the 31st Councilmanic seat - that includes Far Rockaway, Bayswater, Arverne and Edgemere - continue to make their case to the people of the district.

Last week, The Wave introduced you to three of the six men running. This week we conclude our profiles of the candidates.

Jacques Leandre calls himself a "second generation native of Southeast Queens," having lived in the district for more than 30 years. He currently lives in Laurelton with his wife and two children.

After graduating from law school, according to his website, Leandre became a legal coordinator with the New York City Department of Corrections. At MFY Legal Services he headed the New Starts Initiative project - which helped lowincome women with legal problems as they left welfare to self-sufficiency. Currently, Leandre practices law in the private sector.

"I have been the president of the Rosedale Jets Football Association for the past 15 years, where besides sports and physical activities, I have implemented Rights of Passage, Scholarship Fund & Mentorship Programs."

Leandre says that as vice president of the Concerned Citizens of Laurelton

Civic Association for the past six years, he aided in programs such as free legal workshops for residents and worked to restore the integrity of infrastructure in the community.

"I have also worked with several Rockaway community organizations, taking part in manhood training forums, youth leadership training, public safety awareness, law enforcement workshops and providing free legal clinics to address landlord/tenant and foreclosure issues," said Leandre.

"[If elected] I plan to revitalize our community by fighting for a living wage for our workers, providing desperately needed youth and senior centers, encouraging smart development in areas that have either been overdeveloped or neglected, promoting community involvement in our government with discussion rather than dictation and stimulating economic development by pushing for public and private partnerships to improve our merchant strips all over the district."

Leandre addressed the stories that his association with the Nation of Islam cost him the endorsement of the Queens Democratic party.

"As a community leader, I have worked with various organizations that have had a tremendous impact on our neighborhood," continued Leandre." Therefore, as I've worked with practically every progressive organization in our community, I seriously doubt that an endorsement was lost due to my participation [with] any of these organizations."

Leandre was the defense counsel for the Nation of Islam in the 1990s when the organization was being sued by the NYPD. He was also a guest, last December, on the Sankofa Experience, a podcast hosted by Brian E. Muhammad, an advocate of the organization. Leandre did not return our request for him to elaborate on his relationship with the Nation of Islam. Leandre is a member and volunteer for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., NAACP, P.S. 176 PTA, Merrick Academy Charter School, and Macon B. Allen Black Bar Association. His website is www.votejacques. com/.

Frederick A. Lewis II is one of two candidates who live in Rockaway. According to his website, Lewis has worked as a state and city civil servant in law enforcement, as a substitute teacher, as administrator and a New York State Program Specialist and Chief Executive Officer for several community based organizations. He has also worked as a Community Planning Board and Area Policy Board member in Far Rockaway, was elected as state committee member of Queens County, served as Deputy Public Advocate for the City of New York under Mark Green and as Special Assistant to Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. "Government belongs to the people," said Lewis. "They must be allowed to participate. We clearly saw this breached when Council member Sanders voted for the extension of term limits rather than voting for a public referendum on this matter. His action clearly ignored the will of the people!" He further comments, "Although there is a common thread of similar critical issues that encompasses the 31st Council District, Rockaway is clearly the most neglected and needy section of the district. I live in Rockaway and have experienced all of the despair. "Rather than spending millions of dollars in security cameras as Council member Sanders recently did, my priority would be to spend money on human service projects, i.e. job creation, job training and development, youth and 'seasoned' citizens programs, assistance to our failing schools (tutoring, remediation programs). "In addition, I would concentrate on economic development projects that would bring 'big box' businesses to Rockaway (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc.) that would create jobs and spur economic growth for all residents of the District.

"Further, I would concentrate on bringing businesses to the district, i.e. movie theaters, bowling facilities, eateries [and] restaurants, big food chains, that would enhance the pride of the community and give our residents a feeling of self worth and positive self image."

Lewis is a member of the Rockaway NAACP and is affiliated with the Ocean Village Tenants Association, Friends Honoring Friends and several citizens programs. His website is lewisforcouncil2009. com/.

The incumbent, Councilman James Sanders Jr., is completing his second term in office. Sanders, who is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, was born in Hammel Houses, graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1975 and still lives in Rockaway. He spent 10 years serving on School Board 27, including time as its president. In the Council, Sanders has served as the chair of the Economic Development Committee, which had oversight of the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Small Business Services. During the last eight years, Sanders has fought against gun violence; a strip club on Rockaway Turnpike; a Federal Prison in the district and predatory lenders. He allocated $2 million for Redfern Houses and $2.5 million for Hammel Houses for longsought cameras in an attempt to stop the frequent gun violence in the two housing developments. "We have accomplished some incredible things in the past eight years, and there's still more to come," said Sanders in a statement. "As your Councilman, I have been blessed to be able to bring unprecedented resources to our community. I have provided over $20 million to create jobs, over $15 million to re build our parks, upwards of $6 million in funding for our schools, and another $6 million to fight crime. My priority has always been the protection of our families and community, and I hope to continue that fight." Sanders campaign website is Sanders.09.com. The primary is on September 15.

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