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Jennings upsets Andrews

In the race to succeed City Councilman Thomas White, underdog Allan Jennings upset Anthony Andrews, White’s former chief of staff in the Democratic primary, based on unofficial preliminary results.

“I’m very happy with the way that I won,” Jennings said. “I had no endorsements, no special interests, just the complete support of the people in my district — and I am free to work for them with a clear conscience.”

The contest was closely watched by the large Richmond Hill Indo-Guyanese community, which had hoped its candidate, Trevor Rupnarain, would become the first of their members elected to the Council in a year when term limits opened up the ranks.

Jennings and Andrews will meet again in the general election, with Andrews on the Liberal Party line. They will be joined by Working Party Candidate Patrick Jenkins, who is U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (D-St. Albans) executive assistant.

The World Trade Center disaster may have touched this council race more than any other in the borough because Jennings lost his campaign treasurer, Frank Lin, in the terrorist attack.

“I didn’t feel like campaigning — and I didn’t,” Jennings said of the two weeks between the destruction of the World Trade Center and the rescheduled Sept. 25 primary. Jennings also lost all of his campaign finance records and access to his campaign funds, which were in the treasurer’s office in the Twin Towers, so he could not spend any money after Sept. 11.

“We had no money and no endorsement and we still won! It was an act of God,” Jennings said.

He won 34 percent of the vote while Andrews got 31 percent, according to preliminary results compiled by the Associated Press. Rupnarain got 18 percent, followed by Imam Aziz Bilal with 11 percent and Garth Marchant with 5 percent.

Andrews, who was endorsed by the Queen Democratic Party, said he is “trying to make history” and win the general election on the Liberal Party ticket.

Jennings said he feels confident about the general election.

“This district is a Democratic district and I think they will vote Democratic,” Jennings said.

All 14 Queens council members and Borough President Claire Shulman are barred from running for re-election this year due to term limits. White was elected to the Council in 1992.

The 28th City Council District is divided physically and ethnically by the Van Wyck Expressway, which separates Richmond Hill from Jamaica and Rochdale Village. Richmond Hill is host to large Indo-Guyanese and Caribbean immigrant communities, while blacks are in the majority in Jamaica and Rochdale Village.

In Richmond Hill, the allocation of city services for immigrants was the main issue in the election. During the campaign, Rupnarain, the only candidate from the western side of the Van Wyck, said his priorities for the districts were to improve housing, education and other essentials for immigrants. Meanwhile, the other four Democrats spoke mainly of improving public education in the borough.

Other issues in Jamaica, South Jamaica and Rochdale Village were senior services, including tax relief for older residents, affordable housing and economic development. Several candidates also mentioned public safety and police-community relations among the things they hoped to better in the district.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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