2012-09-07 / Top Stories

NewYork State Senate Candidates Respond To Questionnaire

James Sanders James Sanders The Wave asked the following questions of the three candidates running in the Democratic Primary for senator in the 10th District – State Senator Shirley Huntley, Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Gian Jones:

1) Every politician says he or she will
bring jobs to the communities he/she
serves. Realistically how can that be
accomplished in Rockaway?;
2) What’s been termed a ‘transient hotel’
at Beach 44 Street and Rockaway
Beach Boulevard has been given
building permits by the Department
of Buildings. Community members
are against it. What is your position on
whether the construction should go
ahead and what actions would you
take if elected?;
3) A new owner has been announced for
Peninsula Hospital Center. How can
you, in the State Senate, work to
assure that the property is used as a
hospital and not some other enterprise?; 4) Gun violence has increased over the
summer months here in Rockaway.
What plans do you have to combat
this problem?;
5) On ‘stop and frisk,’ are you for or
against it? Do you have a better way
to get guns off the streets of this

Gian Jones Jr. Gian Jones Jr. The answers from each candidate and additional questions are below. Because of a mix-up in email addresses Senator Huntley was given additional time to respond. As of the 9 a.m. Wednesday morning deadline we received no response from her or her campaign.

1) The Rockaways
are an area rich
in natural resources, labor,
and creativity.
these resources
means bringing
them together
with capital and
investment from throughout New
York to lay the foundations for revitalization and growth. Rockaway is lacking the basic tools of investment, and
we need to encourage the development of local credit unions or major
banking institutions to base here, so
that local entrepreneurs have an
opportunity to invest themselves and
their community.
As a beach front community, I believe
Rockaway should be leading the way in
creating the green economy. I have
encouraged the development of a biodiesel facility here in Rockaway, as well
as the creation of a photovoltaic plant;
each of which would create thousands of
jobs here in Rockaway while also
decreasing our carbon footprint.
As a Council Person, I have encouraged the development of farmers’ markets and food exchanges, and have supported initiatives that have brought
companies like Food Dynasty, Stop &
Shop and the Home Depot to this district while working with Council colleagues to call for paid sick leave and an
increase to the minimum wage.
I took the lead in creating and implementing NYC Works, a comprehensive
online job board and training program
that connects job seekers with City jobs.
I successfully led the charge for greater
revitalization of downtown Far Rockaway’s once bustling business district on

Mott Avenue, becoming the first official
to meet with the ownership of the
Thriftway Mall, resulting in the ongoing
revitalization of the center, bringing in
new business and new construction.
In addition, there are any number of
economic policies that could create jobs
here in Rockaway: the construction of
light rail to New York City, expanded
access to broadband, the development
and use of urban and vertical farming
techniques, the development of pocket
parks and infrastructural improvements in the outer boroughs; all could
have overwhelmingly positive and
immediate impact on our local economy.
In addition, I have said for years that
JFK has been an untapped engine of
economic potential for the people of
Rockaway. Only by bringing together
the cumulative resources of local talent,
community investors and cunning
entrepreneurs can we continue our
push towards economic recovery. These
are initiatives I intend to push as a
State Senator, bringing resources from
throughout New York State to bear on
improving the quality of life for my constituents. 2) I understand and share the concerns
of my neighbors. The people of the
Rockaways have been systematically
targeted over the years, and I understand the cynicism in dealing with
city agencies like the Department of
Buildings, who have turned a blind
eye towards overdevelopment in the
Rockaways. I believe that the Department of Buildings and HPD have
dropped the ball, and should have followed through on their plans to purchase this site as part of the urban
renewal plan. When a city agency
promises something to my constituents I expect that promise to be
honored. We’ve lost an opportunity
for new development because HPD
failed to live up to its end of the bargain.

We welcome any business to our community that intends to be a good neighbor, but there is no excuse for HPD’s failure to comply with a promise made to
this community
3) As a State Senator, my job in this case
is simple: ensure that the State
Department of Health is doing its job
in maintaining proper oversight and
control of the facility to make sure its
operation meets the highest possible
standards for patient care and to
guarantee its proper usage as a hospital. 4) We have been actively involved in
combating this problem since the
summer began. Obviously, gun violence will only truly end when people
rise up and demand an end to it
themselves. But it’s the job of government to help them to that end. I have
called repeatedly for frequent and
consistent gun buyback programs
that have successfully removed thousands of guns from our streets. Additionally, community policing has
been a proven and effective way of
deterring crime from within. Community policing promotes organizational strategies, partnerships and
problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the conditions that create criminal activities in the first
5) I am absolutely opposed to Stop &
Frisk, and believe it fosters a dangerous environment of resentment and
mistrust within the community that
pushes criminals further underground

while accomplishing virtually nothing to keep us safer.
When skin color or manner of dress
can label someone a “potential suspect,”
then our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of fighting
crime, and with mixed results at that.
The focus of police investigations has
skewed sharply towards young people of
color, often male, who have been systematically frisked for their appearance,
attitude or behavior, leading to the
alienation of youth in communities of
color and producing a vicious cycle
which has only exacerbated, rather than
eliminated, crime.
Since stop and frisk became a part of
police culture in New York City, there
has been virtually no evidence to suggest that it has actually been effective in
curtailing crime. Communities that feel
alienated from society and targeted by
police will tend to believe that they are
under siege by a corrupt system. The
practice of stop and frisk becomes little
more than legalized racial profiling; bad
for communities, bad for policing, and
good for criminals.

Wave: Why did you back the mayor for a third term? Was there a quid pro quo to get a trade school built in Rockaway?

I have always said that I believed there should be a three term limit for City officials. There was absolutely no quid pro quo of any kind. We simply had a shared vision for the potential of a trade school in the Rockaways as another vital aspect of economic revitalization.

1) Meaningful economic development is one of the
cornerstones of
my campaign. As
a Rockaway native, I believe one
way we can develop more meaningful economic development and produce local jobs is
through tourism. For over 20 years,
the Rockaway’s have been playing
catch-up to a history unbecoming a
beachfront community. Continued
development of our beachfront would
produce local jobs. The development
of a local museum which focused on
the history of the Rockaways would be
educational and produce local jobs.
The development of a major-brand
hotel would produce local jobs and
would be a much needed boost to our
local economy. The redevelopment of
Peninsula Hospital would alleviate
the burden on our other health care
facilities and would produce local jobs.
Finally, the redevelopment of the
Stark Mall as well as the Mott Avenue
and the Beach 20 Street business corridors would be a major improvement
to our local economy and would produce more local jobs. These are all
ideas that are realistic and that can
happen in the Rockaways.
2) I support the members of the Frank
Avenue community. If elected, I
would continue to support them and
would work towards a solution that
would be mutually beneficial to both
community and the landowner.
3) If elected, I would work diligently and
tirelessly to insure that Peninsula
Hospital property is redeveloped into
a mutually successful health care
facility. One that would provide the
critical care this community needs,

but also to insure that an educational
component be added as well. This
would help the residents learn a new
skill and would earn them the qualifications necessary for employment in
the health care industry. I would
work with the new ownership and the
state’s various agencies to insure that
unnecessary roadblocks don’t stand
in the way of this much needed community anchor.
4) Some reasons why gun violence and
violence in general, has increased in
the Rockaways are due to the lack of
education, employment and creative
outlets for young people in the community. If elected, I would work to
bring a SUNY college annex to the
community that would also offer a
technical education program. Hopefully this program would help provide
the necessary education to produce a
more productive member of our community. As stated previously, I would
work to develop economic solutions
that would be mutually beneficial to
this community and the other stakeholders required to produce those
desired results.
5) I am against NYPD’S stop and frisk.
I believe the practice raises serious
questions over racial profiling, illegal
stops and privacy rights. According to
the New York Civil Liberties Union,
in 2010, New Yorkers were stopped
by the police 601,285 times. 518, 849
were totally innocent (86%); 315,083
were black (54%); 189,326 were Latino (33%); 54,810 were white (9%);
and 295,902 were between the ages of
14-24 (49%). In 2011, New Yorkers
were stopped 685,724 times. 605,328
were totally innocent (88%); 350,743
were black (53%); 223,740 were Latino (34%); 61,805 were white (9%);
and 341,581 were between the ages of
14-24 (51%). In the first six months of
this year alone, New Yorkers were
stopped by the police 337,434 times.
298,919 were totally innocent (89%);
179,449 were black (53%); 107,812
were Latino (32%); 31,891 were white
The data suggest that this program is
less effective than hoped by the NYPD.
As your State Senator, I would work
with the community and the Police
Department to come up with other solutions to fight crime in our communities,
while preserving the dignity of its residents.

Wave: Please explain the June 2007 indictment against you on one count of Conspiracy to commit bank fraud and why the government went after you.

In June 2007, after fighting with the United States government for over three years regarding my innocence in a case where a young man of Nigerien decent was part of a money laundering scheme, which stole over $5 million from various sources and from various states, I decided that it was best for me to surrender to the US Attorney and accept the one charge count in order to move on with my life. I believed serving time in a federal prison was easier, faster and cost effective for me rather than waiting for the government to build its case against the other parties involved. I do not regret my decision. I served a five month sentence in a federal prison camp and learned a lot while there. I hope my experience will be useful when dealing with young in our community who have to deal with the criminal justice system.

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