By Sadef Ali Kully
After 30 years a Republican candidate is running against a Democrat for former Assemblyman William Scarborough’s seat in the southeast part of the borough.
The seat for Assembly District 29—which covers Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale—recently became open when Scarborough resigned in May after pleading guilty to state and federal corruption charges.
The NAACP Jamaica Branch postponed its Sept. 1 debate for District 29 between both candidates until Oct. 13.
Since Scarborough resigned in May, the general election will be held Nov. 3 to fill the seat. There is no primary because the candidates are from different parties.
The Democratic party has already chosen Alicia Hyndman, with no Democratic opponents. Hyndman has been the president of District 29 Community Education Council for almost a decade. Hyndman announced in June and was endorsed by major Democratic elected officials and district leaders, including drawing strong support from former City Councilman Archie Spigner.
On the Republican side, Queens GOP leaders have shown support for Scherie Murray, a member of the Republican State Committee. She also ran against Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) in a 2013 special election for the 31st Council District.
“We are a non-profit, non-political organization,” NAACP Jamaica Branch President Leroy Gadsden said. “It is only fair to us that whoever we send to Albany has our best interest at heart.”
In the past, Gadsden said Republicans have not made a serious effort for the seat, but he hopes this special election will be different.
“We believe the right to vote is a truly powerful right to have,” he said. “When candidates compete, they do their best. It is important to get to know the candidate so we can hold them accountable. I hope constituents bring young people to the debate because it is important for them to witness and be involved in the democratic process.”
Southeast Queens has a rich, diverse political history. In the middle of the national civil rights movement and a major push by the NAACP Jamaica branch, the district became the fourth city borough to elect a black assemblyman, Justice Kenneth Brown, in 1964. He eventually left the Assembly seat to become the first African-American judge in Queens County.
After Brown, Assemblyman Guy Brewer and City Councilman Archie Spigner changed southern Queens politics into what it is today.
After serving one term, Brewer lost his seat in 1968 to Democrat Andrew Jenkins, who was subsequently convicted of federal corruption charges. Then, the first black woman elected to public office in Queens, Cynthia Jenkins (no relation to her predecessor), took over the seat for 12 years.
Scarborough was elected in 1996 against Republican candidate Everly Brown, an area businessman. He stayed on until this year.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull