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Brooks joins race for Sanders’ seat

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The field to replace City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) got a little more crowded when Far Rockaway resident Selvena Brooks threw her hat into the race.

Sanders, who won a state Senate race in November, will vacate the seat in January when he is sworn in, kicking off a special election to fill the rest of his term until 2013.

Brooks enters the race against fellow Democrats Earnest Flowers III, who owns a marketing company; Jacques Leandre, an attorney; and Donovan Richards, Sanders’ chief of staff.

Brooks spent about eight years working for state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) as his press secretary, director of constituent affairs and deputy district director. She also worked as the downstate spokeswoman for the Democratic conference.

She said it is those experiences that set her apart from the other candidates.

“In terms of my government experience, working in the Senate has allowed me to work with our partners on a federal level as well as on a city level, understanding how to navigate the different agencies that we’ve worked with with respect to addressing constituent issues, which is a very big component of a day-to-day operation with a City Council member,” she said. “I feel like I have an advantage in that area.”

Brooks grew up in St. Albans before buying a home in Arverne — she lives on the third floor and said her place escaped any serious damage from Superstorm Sandy — and said the revitalization of the Rockaways is one of her biggest concerns.

“I think that something went wrong in terms of preparation [for Superstorm Sandy],” she said. “I think we need to really sit down and take a real look as to why we weren’t prepared. I think more steps could have been taken with respect to that. Now it’s not a matter of pointing the finger but where we need to go from here.”

She added, “I think that the relationships that I’ve been able to create on different levels of government and different entities will be helpful in terms of bringing back tangible resources to our district.”

Brooks was involved in the discussions surrounding mayoral control of schools, and she said she understands that one of the biggest impacts a Council member can have on schools is through the city budget.

“When you look at the schools on more of a micro level and look at the class sizes and the communities they represent, there are some schools that would probably do better if they had more funding to provide more resources,” she said, adding she also favors more educational options, such as vocational training.

Brooks said she felt the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program needed to be revised and said she would go about doing so by bringing all interested parties to the table to put “together a policy that ensures the safety of the community but at the same time protects the individual’s rights.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 1:00 am, December 6, 2012
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