Elections come to southeast Queens

By Sadef Ali Kully

The winner of the seat held by former Democratic Assemblyman William Scarborough in southeast Queens will be decided in next week’s election.

The position in Assembly District 29—which covers Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale—opened up when Scarborough resigned in May after pleading guilty to state and federal corruption charges.

The Democratic candidate is Alicia Hyndman, who has been president of the District 29 Community Education Council for four years, but has served the council for almost a decade. Hyndman announced her candidacy in June and was endorsed by major Democratic elected officials and district leaders, including former City Councilman Archie Spigner.

On the Republican side, Queens GOP leaders have chosen Scherie Murray, a member of the Republican State Committee. Murray founded the Esemel Group Inc., a television production and advertising company. She also ran in City Council elections in 2008 and 2013. Murray will also be running on the Reform Party ticket in this election.

There was no primary election because each candidate was unopposed in her own party.

For the first time in the history of the district, two African-American women are running for the Assembly seat. The last woman to hold the Assembly seat for the 29th District was Cynthia Jenkins, the first black woman ever elected in the district.

Southeast Queens has a rich, diverse political history. In the middle of the national civil rights movement and a major push by the NAACP’s Jamaica branch, the district became the fourth city borough to elect a black assemblyman, Kenneth Brown, in 1964. He eventually left the Assembly seat to become the first African-American judge in Queens County.

After one term, Brewer lost his seat in 1968 to Democrat Andrew Jenkins, who was subsequently convicted of federal corruption charges. Then, Cynthia Jenkins (no relation to her predecessor) held the position for 12 years before being defeated by Scarborough .

Scarborough was challenged twice by Republican candidate Everly Brown, a businessmanwho lost by a large margin in each race.

District 29, which is heavily Democratic, has not fielded a Republican candidate for the Assembly seat since 2002. The last time a Republican won an election in the area was in 1965, when the district map was much more different.

Jenkins, a librarian and civil rights activist, had the district map lines redrawn after winning a Supreme Court case to include more African-American voters—setting the area up for Democratic reign because there were far more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.