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Embattled State Sen. Smith Faces Primary Challengers

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 8, 2014 4:17pm
 State Senator Malcolm Smith (left) faces primary challenge from former City Councilman Leroy Comrie (center) and lawyer Munir Avery.
State Senator Malcolm Smith (left) faces primary challenge from former City Councilman Leroy Comrie (center) and lawyer Munir Avery.
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QUEENS — Three candidates are set to compete Tuesday in the Democratic primary in the 14th state Senate District, which includes Jamaica, Queens Village, St. Albans and Hollis.

Voters will get to choose from among the embattled incumbent, Malcolm Smith, who is facing a federal corruption retrial, former Jamaica City Councilman Leroy Comrie and political newcomer, lawyer Munir Avery.

The winner will run unopposed in the general election on Nov. 4.

Here’s what you need to know before heading to polling sites on Tuesday:

Malcolm Smith, the 57-year-old incumbent, is currently awaiting retrial on federal corruption charges.

In April 2013, Smith was arrested by the FBI for allegedly attempting to rig last year’s mayoral election. In June, he was granted a mistrial and his new trial is scheduled for January.

Smith has held his current post since 2000, and once served as the majority leader of the state Senate.

He began his career as an aide to then-Congressman Rev. Floyd Flake and later also worked for former Jamaica City Councilman Archie Spigner.

Among the issues he has focused on over the years are curbing gun violence, preventing foreclosures, building more affordable housing and creating jobs.

He has been endorsed by Flake, as well as District Council 37, the largest public employee union in the city.

Leroy Comrie, a 56-year-old former City Councilman, represented the 27th District, which includes St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Jamaica and Hollis, from 2002 to 2013.

Last year, Comrie dropped out of the race for Queens Borough President, but was later chosen as Deputy Borough President by his former rival, Melinda Katz. He resigned in April to run for the State Senate.

Comrie also has served as chief of staff to City Councilman Archie Spigner, whom he succeeded on the Council.

He has the backing of the Democratic party, as well as numerous elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Congressman Gregory Meeks and City Councilman Daneek Miller. He has also been endorsed by several labor unions, including TWU Local 100 and 1199 SEIU.

Among the issues he plans to focus on, if elected, are creating jobs, providing tax relief for middle class families, as well as expanding affordable healthcare, according to his website.

He will also work to increase the penalties for public officials who break the law, he wrote on his website.

Munir Avery, 36, a Queens attorney, serves as counsel for Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, who serves part of Flushing and College Point. According to his website, Avery will focus on bringing more jobs to the area as well as services for seniors and youth in the district.

He will also work on providing halal food options to public schools and senior centers.

He has been endorsed by UNITE HERE Local 100 and the Alliance of South Asian American Labor.

Polling sites will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. To find your site, go here.