With less than two weeks left before the September primaries, candidates and incumbents alike are making their final push on the campaign trail before constituents make their votes. The Press of Southeast Queens will be reviewing the races headlining Primary Day. This week, we tackle the heavily contests Assembly seats of Southeast Queens.
33RD ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
After the untimely passing of Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, the 33rd Assembly District was left without a representative in Albany. This September, St. Albans, Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Hollis and Bellerose residents will vote for a successor to the late assembly woman’s. Here are the candidates.
Bryan Block, who currently serves as chair of Community Board 13, has quite a history with the community. Block became an active member of the Southeast Queens community after he stood up to Mayor Giuliani at a town hall meeting at Springfield Gardens High School, demanding to know why local residents were forced by police to show identification to get to their homes. After the town hall meeting, Councilwoman Juanita Watkins appointed Bryan to Community Board 13, and several years later he was elected as the first black Chairperson for the Community Board.
Block says that residents of the 33rd district “deserve safe streets, great schools, good jobs and affordable housing.”
Coming from a grass roots background, Sabine French is a Southeast Queens mother and resident fighting for major change. French, a “Mother, Advocate and Neighbor” of the community is hoping to see these major changes applied to Better Housing, Senior Services, education and improved community well-being.
She is backed by fairly new but effective civic group “People of the Neighborhood,” who were instrumental in keeping up the fight against supportive housing in Assembly District 33, as well as bringing much needed attention to numerous quality of life issues in Southeast Queens.
She has said that she wants to “give the power back to the community” and has taken her campaign to the streets of the district, talking to constituents in a more direct manner.
“I am running on my record of years of working for the betterment and upkeep of this community,” Gadsden said. “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.
Roy Paul announced his run for the 33rd Assembly District May 6. He told the Press of Southeast Queens earlier this year 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.”
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. He is a former Chief of Staff for New York state Sen. James Sanders Jr.
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.
Vanel is running on the platform of improving education, assisting small businesses and bringing jobs to the district.
A lifelong resident of Cambria Heights, Nantesha Williams announced her run for office in June. “Through boots on the ground and transformative action I will work tirelessly to increase the quality of life, for a better community,” Williams told the Press of Southeast Queens in June.
Currently serving as Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, Williams has seen leadership firsthand. Williams recently served as Executive Director for the Black Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. She is considered a well-respected political strategist and community advocate.
Just last year, Williams was honored as one of ‘Albany’s Rising Stars Top 40 Under 40’ by political website City & State.
Elsewhere in Southeast Queens’, three incumbent Assembly members will be challenged come Sept. 13.
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 29
Elected just last year, first-term Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) is already facing opposition. Hyndman will be going up against educational activist Lorraine Gittens-Bridges and Rosedale resident Dr. Linda Guillebeaux in her first primary challenge. Assembly District 29 encompasses the neighborhoods of Laurelton, Rosedale, St. Albans, Addisleigh Park, Hollis, Springfield Gardens and Jamaica.
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 31
Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) is being challenged by Nigel Loncke, a former community liaison to U.S. Rep. Meeks (D-Jamaica). In his years of community service, Loncke has tackled issues such as, wage increases, affordable housing, climate change and women’s rights.
Titus took office in 2002 and has run uncontested since then. District 31 comprises of Far Rockaway, Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park and South Richmond Hill. She is currently a member of several standing committees, including Children and Families, Codes, Judiciary, Small Business and Local Governments, among others.
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 32
Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-South Jamaica), the dean of the borough’s Assembly delegation, is facing her first primary in 14 years against Rodney Reid, a local property manager. Reid has been in the community trying to stir support for his campaign, promising to “engage in the political process” as he takes on Southeast Queens most senior member of the state assembly.
Cook on the other hand, has 25 years of serving in the assembly. She still holds the support of democrats in the borough. The 32nd Assembly District consists of Rochdale Village, South Jamaica and Jamaica.
Primaries are set to take place Sept. 13.
–Compiled by Trone Dowd