Sanders defeats five%A0in bid for re-election

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Despite a large number of challengers who actively campaigned up to the last second, voters in Laurelton and the Rockaways chose to keep City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) as their Democratic candidate for in this year’s primary.

Sanders beat out five candidates who were vying for his seat with 3,071 votes, which was 39.91 percent of the total for the primary, according to the city Board of Elections. The incumbent is seeking a third term in office and will be running against sole Republican challenger Scherie Murray in the general election this November.

His opponents included his former chief of staff, Michael Duncan, community activists Lou Grays and Jacques Leandre, political staffer Fredrick Lewis and former 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and Community Board 13 member Marq Claxton.

Leandre came in second with 21.60 percent of the vote with 1,662 Democratic constituents voting for him, followed by Duncan, who had 14.01 percent of the vote with 1,078 votes and then by Claxton with 12.09 percent, or 930 votes, according to the city Board of Elections. Grays came in fifth with 479 votes, or about 6.22 percent of the total, and Lewis had the least number of votes with 475 constituents, or 6.17 percent, voting for him, the BOE said.

Leandre congratulated Sanders on his win and promised to continue his activism in southeast Queens.

“As a community leader I will do everything in my power to help the councilman in whatever efforts that will enrich and enhance the lives of the residents of this district,” he said following the results.

The 31st Council District encompasses the neighborhoods of Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, Arverne, Bayswater and Edgemere. Turnout was not heavy in southeast Queens, but the voters who went to the polls said they cared deeply about who won the Democratic bid for City Council, comptroller and mayor.

Sanders, Leandre, Claxton and Duncan all bumped into each other outside PS 156 at 229-02 137 Ave. Tuesday morning as they made one final push to get southeast Queens voters to chose them.

“I feel great today. I encourage everyone to be peaceful,” Sanders said as he began his primary morning.

The councilman voted to extend term limits last year, but abstained on a vote to leave the issue up to the voters in a referendum.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 7:08 pm, September 14, 2011
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