City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) has announced his intention to challenge state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) as she seeks a third term for the 10th District seat in southeast Queens.
Sanders was unavailable for comment earlier this week, but his office confirmed the councilman announced his plan over the weekend just before a Mother’s Day concert he hosted in Springfield Gardens.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for Sept. 11.
In the Council, Sanders is the chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. He has authored bills restricting sales of guns to people under 21 and enhancing opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses
Huntley is chairwoman of the Senate committee on city school governance and has sponsored a number of bills enhancing rights for those with developmental disabilities.
Sanders will be term-limited out of his Council seat, which covers Laurelton, Rosedale and parts of Springfield Gardens and the Rockaways, at the end of his tenure in 2013, and a source close to his campaign said state redistricting lines affected his decision to challenge Huntley.
“The councilman sees this as an opportunity that came about from favorable redistricting lines,” the source said. “Huntley lost a portion of her district that knew her very well and picked up a new portion where people don’t necessarily know her well, but they do know Sanders Jr.”
The 10th Senate District lost parts of Springfield Gardens, St. Albans, Jamaica and Kew Gardens, but picked up parts of Ozone Park, the Rockaways and Rosedale.
Huntley said they were “not the worst lines” and that the new district still maintains much of her political base. Despite the new competition, Huntley said she was not yet in campaign mode.
“I’m in Albany right now, and my main concern is the living wage and the women’s rights bill,” she said. “I’m not concentrating on the campaign at this time.”
Huntley may have suffered a political hit late last year, when state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that an aide to the senator and a woman who shares her residence were indicted on charges of scamming member-item funds from a nonprofit Huntley had set up.
Huntley herself was not charged, although aide Patricia Savage and Lynn Smith, who shares a residence with the senator, were both charged with pocketing close to $30,000 set aside for Parent Workshop Inc.
Huntley said she did not think the allegations would hurt her chances for re-election.
“I’m not under investigation,” she said.
A representative for the Southeast Queens County Young Democrats said the consensus among the group’s members was that Huntley would be the heavyweight contender in the race, based on her office’s responsiveness to constituents’ issues.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2012 Community News Group
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