2012-05-18 / Top Stories

It’s Official–Sanders Challenges Huntley For State Senate

By Miriam Rosenberg


Councilman James Sanders, Jr. with MTA NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast at the ribbon cutting for the renovated Mott Avenue subway station on May 10. Later in the day Sanders announced his candidacy for the State Senate. Councilman James Sanders, Jr. with MTA NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast at the ribbon cutting for the renovated Mott Avenue subway station on May 10. Later in the day Sanders announced his candidacy for the State Senate. Councilman James Sanders Jr. is looking to move up in politics. During a Mother’s Day concert last Friday he announced that this fall he would run for the office of state senator.

Sanders announced his intention to challenge State Senator Shirley Huntley to represent the 10th District in Queens, which includes parts of Rockaway, at a concert he sponsored at the Springfield Gardens Educational Campus. Approximately 1000 people were in attendance, according to the councilman’s chief of staff Donovan Richards, when Sanders threw his hat in the state senate ring. Earlier that day the candidate was on hand to help cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Mott Avenue subway station. He gave The Wave an exclusive interview concerning his plans.

“We have gotten an overwhelming vote of confidence that people want change desperately,” said Sanders about his conversations with people in the district. He believes that he could be an “agent for change” of what he called, the dysfunctional government in Albany.

When asked about the benefits for the peninsula if the voters choose him over Huntley, Sanders said, “I know where Rockaway is. I live in the Rockaways and I have dedicated my life to serving the entire district, including the Rockaways.”

He added that many decisions that affect the Rockaways, such as closing Peninsula Hospital, are state driven.

“We need some strong voices [in Albany] who will raise these issues – who understand the issues of foreclosure we’re getting hit with here, who understand the issue of the MTA trains and know what’s going on, who understand the issue of the lack of jobs and have a plan for attacking these things.”

The councilman believes that the first real test will be when the candidates are required to turn in nomination petitions in June. He said it will be “one of the signs of who has the popular mandate. Who can get the amount of petitions necessary.”

Sanders, who has never run unchallenged in a council race, promises a vigorous campaign. As we reported in The Wave recently, Huntley and the Democratic Party higher-ups, who are backing her, also appear ready for the challenge. Democratic Senate Minority Leader John Sampson has said, “Senator Huntley is a trusted colleague and strong voice for her constituents. Despite the Senate Republicans’ attempts to marginalize her through partisan gerrymandering, she will prevail in any primary or general election with the full support of her Conference and our partners.”

About Sanders’ decision to run for her seat, Huntley reportedly said, “I still have a large part of my district, and I have friends in the Rockaways. It’s just a race. I have a race every year. I’ll just prepare and go out and do what I do.”

The opportunity for Sanders, who is term-limited out of the City Council at the end of next year, to take on Huntley is a result of the 2010 census and the newly drawn district lines. Far Rockaway, Arverne, Bayswater and Edgemere are now in Huntley’s district. These are areas that Sanders has represented for the last 10 years.

“It’s almost an open seat the way the lines were drawn,” said Mike Lopes, a spokesman for Sanders. “It’s just an opportunity that arose from what happened to be favorable redistricting lines. It included people he already represented and who knew him.”

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