Special Election to be Held for James Sanders' Council Seat

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on February 18, 2013 1:34pm 

 In a hotly contested special election, voters from Southeast Queens on Tuesday will choose a new City Council member.
In a hotly contested special election, voters from Southeast Queens on Tuesday will choose a new City Council member.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

QUEENS — A hotly contested special election among eight candidates, including community activists and a former City Council member, will come to a close Tuesday when voters from Southeast Queens choose a new City Council member to replace James Sanders, who was elected to the state Senate last year.

The winner will represent the district until November, when there will be a general election for the council. But a win this Tuesday will likely give the winning candidate a significant advantage in November.

The district includes Laurelton, Far Rockaway, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.

Among the candidates running is Donovan Richards, Sanders' former chief of staff, who has been endorsed by Sanders, The Working Families Party and several labor unions, including SEIU Local 32BJ and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Other candidates include Michael Duncan, who also worked for Sanders as a chief of staff; district manager of Community Board 8 Marie Adam-Ovide; Selvena Brooks, a former staffer to state Sen. Malcolm Smith; Allan Jennings, a former City Councilman from Queens; Saywalah Kesselly, who works for the African Center for Community Empowerment; Jacques Leandre, a civil rights attorney; and Pesach Osina, a staff member for Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder.

One of the key issues in the special election is rebuilding the areas destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

“As we come together to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, the question is not 'will you vote?' but 'can you afford not to?"  reads a message posted on the New York City Campaign Finance Board website.

“Your vote has an impact. You may choose to cast a vote for better schools, for safer streets, for better jobs. For our city’s recovery."

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