By Rich Bockmann
City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) announced last week he had picked up the endorsement of the influential spiritual and political leader the Rev. Floyd Flake in his bid to replace state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) in Albany.
Aside from being the pastor of the 23,000-strong Greater Allen AME Cathedral in St. Albans, Flake represented southeast Queens in Congress from 1987-97, and his backing is highly prized.
“I am proud to offer my support and endorsement to Councilman Sanders in his race for state Senate,” Flake said. “I’m proud to stand with a builder in our community, who has been on the front lines of some of the most urgent and pressing battles facing the people of our district. From economic development to crime, from education to protecting our seniors, from fighting for better streets to expanding and cleaning up our parks, Councilman Sanders has been a leader with a clear vision for his constituents and a demonstrated track record of success. I look forward to his bringing his energy, enthusiasm and experience to Albany.”
Sanders, who was elected to the Council in 2001, is in his third term and will be term-limited out of his seat next year. Huntley was elected in 2007 to the Senate, where there are no term limits.
Before he was elected to the Council, Sanders ran Flake’s district office in the Rockaways, the area that could prove to be the key battle ground in the race for the Senate seat.
Sanders’ Council district includes Far Rockaway, which was drawn into Huntley’s 10th Senate District earlier this year.
In accepting the endorsement, Sanders called Flake a role model.
“Rev. Flake has been a trusted adviser and a friend throughout my personal and public life,” Sanders said. “His leadership and example have served as both inspiration and a model upon which I’ve tried to base my time as a Council member. Throughout his life, he has been a consummate public servant — tireless in defense of his constituents and dogged in his determination to do the right thing. His wisdom and guidance have touched the lives of thousands of New Yorkers from throughout Queens and beyond and has shaped the very foundation of our community.”
The Democratic Party primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Huntley may be already starting at a disadvantage in her re-election bid. Last year, her niece and one of her top legislative aides were indicted on charges they pocketed $30,000 Huntley allocated to a nonprofit the two were in charge of.
Huntley did not return a request for comment, though she has previously pointed out that she was not charged in the investigation.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.