Jockeying Begins For State Legislative Primaries

State Sen. James Sanders Jr., left,  is so far the only Southeast Queens incumbent facing a challenge – from Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams, right, who was endorsed by Rev. Floyd Flake last month. File Photo.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr., left,  is so far the only Southeast Queens incumbent facing a challenge – from Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams, right, who was endorsed by Rev. Floyd Flake last month. File Photo.


As the borough nears the first of its many primaries, more Southeast Queens political figures and community leaders are throwing their hats into the political races.

State Assembly District 33
So far, two Assembly seats are being contested in Southeast Queens.

After the untimely passing of former Assemblywoman Barbara Clark this past February, the 33rd Assembly District has been an open seat ready for the taking. It wasn’t until earlier this month that three community figures had come forward to announce their bid for the seat held for 29 years by Clark.
So far, there are three candidates who have announced a bid.

Clyde Vanel
Clyde Vanel, a Cambria Heights resident, is a former Attorney and community advocate. After graduating from law school, Vanel worked at intellectual property law firm, Fish & Neave before starting his own firm representing small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and entertainers just a few years later. The candidate is not unfamiliar with the Southeast Queens political scene as he was a former Chief of Staff for New York State Sen. James Sanders.

In addition to his professional career, Vanel is a self proclaimed entrepreneur and works training small business owners abroad and in New York. He also works with faith-based organizations as well as non-profits in Southeast Queens, even using his office as a local community center. He is also the president of the New York Metro Chapter of Black Pilots of America, an organization that works with youths in the New York area, training them in the field of aviation.

Vanel is running on the platform of improving education, assisting small businesses and bringing jobs to the district.

Roy Paul
Roy Paul announced his run for the 33rd Assembly District May 6. He told the Press of Southeast Queens earlier this month he believes he “has the ability to bring resources into the community” that will “bring Southeast Queens forward.”

Paul is the head of the Southeast Queens for Community Action and is a board member of the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults. He is also a former member of an upstate school board, which he was elected to at the age of 19.

“We need a community-minded representative that has a demonstrated ability to work on behalf of our two most precious jewels: our kids and seniors – for the issues they face cannot wait.”

Paul stated that he “will be knocking on doors to introduce himself to the voters” who will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate in the September primaries.

“I have the utmost faith in the intelligence of the voters in the 33rd District,” he said. “I am confident that once I am able to meet them, they will see me as the strongest candidate in the race.”

Leroy Gadsden
Gadsden, President of the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP, announced this Wednesday that he would be running for open Assembly seat.

“I am running on my record of years of working for the betterment and up keep of this community,” Gadsden said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “I have a history of standing up for the community. Some of which includes standing against the placement of an hourly rate hotel this community, standing against the placement of yet another liquor store, demanding sewer and drainage repair upgrade to prevent flooding conditions, criminal justice reform, co-location of charter schools, re-opening the senior citizens center, and the list goes on.”

Gadsden is running on a platform of improving the quality of life for senior citizens, preventing “profit motivated developers from consuming and destroying” residential communities in the district and maintaining free quality education.

Jamal Wilkerson
Although the former President of the Queens County Young Democrats has yet to officially throw his hat into the race, Wilkerson told the Press of Southeast Queens that it is something that he is currently mulling over.
“I’m weighing all my options and I am considering running for the 33rd Assembly District,” Wilkerson told the Press of Southeast Queens. “As the former Vice President of the Queens County Young Democrats, former aide to then City Councilman Comrie and Youth and Community Advocate, I will make my decision after Memorial Day.”

Although he is still thinking about the political run, he said that he’ll be watching the race closely regardless of his decision.

“I believe that our community needs good representation and not someone who is just looking for a title, but someone who genuinely cares about our community and will be committed to working with and for our young people.”

Senate District 10
Incumbent James Sanders Jr.
In the New York State Senate, District 10 is seeing a crop of new faces challenging incumbent Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park). Sanders, a former City Council member, won his seat in 2013 against Shirley Huntley, who at the time was facing criminal charges for allegedly running a fraudulent taxpayer-funded charity.

Sanders told the Press of Southeast Queens that as state Senator, he is proud of his work and hopes to see the people re-elect him. He cited his stances combating social injustices even in the face of opposition, improving affordability and quality of life and a consistent push for a universal increased on minimum wage as a few of his works he’s most proud of. He pointed out that while in office, he saved the “Worker’s Compensation system from threats of being weakened” and was a part of the fight to enacted a $15 minimum wage which was successfully passed by the senate and was a part of the Senate’s decision to provide the most education funding in senate history.

“I also bring my office to the community with my mobile office program, where myself and my team travel to different areas in the district to hear the questions, concerns and suggestions directly from constituents,” Sanders said. “My office has also hosted a number of educational events as well on topics regarding, health, flooding, and debt relief.”

Sanders said that he hopes to continue being “an advocate for the community, stand[ing] on my principles and not letting the political environment dictate what ideas we advance.”

Challenger Adrienne Adams
Adrienne Adams, the current Chairwoman of Community Board 12, announced her run for state senate in February. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise as Sanders declared a run for against Gregory Meeks and was seemingly unopposed in the Senate.

“The people of Queens are a diverse, vibrant community with distinctive needs,” Adams said when she announced her run. “Too often we are ignored in Albany. We need proper economic development, equal opportunities with regard to [Minority Women Business Enterprise] contracts, education equity and criminal justice reform if we are to thrive and prosper.”

This past weekend, Adams picked up a significant endorsement from the Queens County Democratic Committee, making her the only non-incumbent to do so.

“Adrienne has a proven record of building consensus and working together to improve the quality of life for her constituents,” U.S. Rep Meeks (D-Jamaica) said in a public statement. “We’re going to work hard to make sure she’s our newest state senator from Queens.”

“Queens has some of the most dedicated public servants in New York State,” said Adams. “I’m excited to bring that level of dedication and integrity to the communities of Southeast Queens and the Rockaways.

Together, we will improve our schools, create good jobs and make sure our streets are safe.”

Adams will add this to her other high profile endorsement from Rev. Floyd Flake.

Be sure to tune in next week for part two of our look at the political state of Southeast Queens.

Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, or @theloniusly

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