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Gian Jones engages Sanders in second primary challenge

By Sarina Trangle

Gian Jones’ state Senate campaign is not one that invites voters to see the southeast Queens district through a rose-tinted crystal ball.

While describing economic development, transportation and other platform priorities, Jones bluntly specified which issues he believed may be too pervasive for any single legislator to tackle.

He senses a wave of gentrification washing over Rockaway, but says most of the peninsula within the 10th Senate District he is seeking to represent has one- or two-family homes that fall outside government regulation.

He acknowledges receiving surveys from good government groups about term limits and the culture in Albany, and says it is far from his focus.

“I’m not one guy going to slay Albany,” the real estate businessman from Bayswater said in a recent interview at the TimesLedger Newspapers’ offices. “I’m not going to change the style that’s been in operation for God knows how many years. So I’ll work within the system to make the changes necessary to bring home the things this district needs.”

Jones, a former Community Board 14 member and ex-president of the 101st Precinct Community Council, decided to run against Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) in a second consecutive Democratic primary because he believes he can do a better job than the incumbent.

Rosedale resident Everly Brown is also contending for the district, which runs from Arverne to Far Rockaway and north to South Jamaica, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.

Jones said he was endorsed by Michael Duncan, Sanders’ former chief of staff, and CB 14 member Felicia Johnson. Sanders’ team said he has the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the building service workers union 32BJ SEIU and the city public employees union DC 37.

And Brown said he has support from Sanders’ predecessor, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who just completed a 10-month prison sentence, and ex-City Councilman Allan Jennings.

The state Board of Elections’ website did not list the latest 11-day, pre-primary campaign finance filing for any candidate in the race. Jones’ and Sanders’ campaigns said they were behind. Brown said the BOE must have bumbled his paperwork.

Jones contends his business background would give him a fresh approach to a government he described as dominated by judges, lawyers and other trained social workers.

But he said his political education started at 12 or 13 when he volunteered with U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (D-Jamaica) failed City Council bid, long before Meeks ascended to Congress.

He then worked as Meeks’ aide in the Assembly and joined the Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club.

Jones said he sought a resolution to a five-year legal case and served five months behind bars on a conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge. He tells people this experience shows people can have success after prison.

If elected, Jones would strive to welcome new neighbors and the economic prowess they come with while preventing gentrification from creating completely distinct communities.

He would push for a credit union in the district to provide loans of all varieties, support a state bank and attempt to secure a first priority on JFK contract bids for constituents that have minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

“The banks aren’t loaning,” he said. “But there are hundreds of millions of dollars moving around in southeast Queens.”

Jones said he would advocate for running Long Island Rail Road trains on the abandoned Rockaway Beach spur, more comprehensive ferry service along the peninsula and seek feedback on ways to improve bus service.

He also described healthcare as a priority and said he had a plan to redevelop Peninsula Hospital, but would not disclose details.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com.

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