2009-09-18 / Front Page

Sanders Beats Challengers

Runoffs Set For Two Citywide Races
By Miriam Rosenberg

Four years ago James Sanders Jr. kept his City Council seat, garnering 60 percent of the vote against a single opponent. This year was a little tougher for the two-term councilman, as he retained the nomination with 40 percent of the vote against five challengers.

A little more than a year after the first candidate declared his intention to run for the 31st Councilmanic seat - which includes Far Rockaway, Bayswater, Arverne, Edgemere and parts of the mainland - Councilman James Sanders Jr. won the Democratic nomination Tuesday and will now run against Republican Scherie Murray, in the November 3 general election.

Sanders beat back five men looking to unseat him. By 11:30 p.m. on primary election night, with 100 percent of the vote counted, Sanders had 3,071 votes.

Of his opponents, Jacques Leandre had 1,662 votes and 21 percent; Michael Duncan, 1,078 votes and 14 percent; Marquez Claxton, 930 votes and 12 percent; Fred Lewis, 475 votes and 6 percent; and Lou Grays, 439 votes and 5 percent.

At the outset, many believed that term limits would keep Sanders from the election, providing an open seat for challengers.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to extend term limits was passed by the City Council, with Sanders voting with the mayor, would-be candidates such as David Hooks and Andrea Sanders (the councilman's wife), who were running or considering the idea, eventually dropped out of the race.

In citywide races, three men vied for the Democratic nomination for mayor - City Comptroller William Thomson, Councilman Tony Avella and nonprofit manager Roland Rogers. Thompson started the night with a little more than 50 percent lead over his closest competitor, Avella, and never looked back. The current comptroller rolled over his opponents with 70 percent of the vote - 218,793 votes. Avella and Rogers had 21 percent and 8 percent of the vote, respectively. In November, Thompson will try to keep Bloomberg from winning a third term as mayor.

Helen Marshall, the current Queens borough president, took a wide lead over her challengers - attorney Marc Leavitt and the retired president of Dellwood Dairy Co., Robert Schwartz - as soon as the votes began to be counted and handily won the Democratic nomination in her bid to be re-elected. Marshall won with 71 percent of the vote - 52,258 votes - as opposed to Leavitt with 16 percent and Schwartz' 11 percent of the vote.

The races for city comptroller and public advocate are both heading for runoffs, as no one won the required 40 percent of the vote.

In the contest for comptroller, Councilman John Liu got 38 percent (134,011 votes) and Councilman David Yassky had 30 percent (107,503 votes). They will meet later this month to determine the winner. Melinda Katz with 20 percent and David Weprin with 11 percent are out of the race.

Public advocate hopefuls Bill de Blasio, who got 32 percent and 113,354 votes, and Mark Green with 30 percent and 107,281 votes, will also be continuing their campaigns through the end of September. Eric Gioia, with 18 percent of the vote; Norman Siegel with 14 percent; and Imtiaz Syed with 3 percent of the vote will be watching from the sidelines.

This year's Democratic primary resulted in the lowest turnout in recent history, according to CBS news. Less than 400,000 people, of the 3.1 million registered Democrats, voted to decide the man who would run against Bloomberg this fall. Election results will be certified once all machines are re-canvassed and all valid absentee, affidavit, and military ballots are counted.

Runoff elections will take place on September 29. The general election is on November 3.

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