Sanders faces primary challenge from Adams

Community Board chair Adrienne Adams (left) is facing off in a Democratic primary challenge against incumbent state Sen. James Sanders (right).
Photo by Nat Valentine
By Patrick Donachie

State Sen. James Sanders (D-Rochdale Village) is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary race to represent a large part of southeastern Queens stretching from Richmond Hill to parts of Far Rockaway. His opponent is Adrienne Adams, the chairwoman of Community Board 12, which includes downtown Jamaica.

Sanders was originally a city councilman for parts of southeastern Queens, including Rosedale and Far Rockaway. He served on that body for 12 years before being elected to the state Senate in 2012, when he defeated Shirley Huntley, who had been convicted of corruption. He graduated from Far Rockaway High School and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to Sanders’ site.

He framed the race as an opportunity to make more significant changes in Albany.

“The reforms we started are not finished,” he said. “Now the Democratic Party is at the edge of taking power in Albany. Now he bills that we fought for can take place.”

Adams became chairwoman of Community Board 12 in 2012 and headed the board’s Education Committee for four years before that. She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta and has also worked in the fields of educational and executive training, marketing and business management, consulting with several Fortune 500 companies, according to her campaign site.

Adams has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Committee, Borough President Melinda Katz, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), among others. A spokesman for Adams’ campaign noted that she was the only person endorsed by the Democratic machine who was challenging an incumbent.

Michael Reich, the Queens Dems’ executive secretary, said Adams was a “far superior candidate” and pointed out that Sanders had never tried to make contact with the Queens Democratic Party or ask for their endorsement.

“He chose not to have anything to do with us,” he said.

Adams said the endorsements were a strong indication of the strength of her campaign in a statement to the TimesLedger.

“Albany has failed our seniors, our schools and our community. That is why I am running for state Senate. I’ll fight for more money for our schools and our seniors, and I will work to make our streets safe while helping to bring real jobs to our community. Our community deserves better,” she said. “We need a senator we can trust to deliver the jobs, housing and schools our families so desperately need.”

Sanders noted that many of Adams’ endorsements came from elected officials outside of the district, and said the potential for significant progress in Albany was a reason for his re-election.

In December, Sanders filed paperwork to run in a primary against Meeks, who has been in the House since 1998, though he eventually opted against pursuing a challenge against the congressman.

Sanders said he was confident he would be victorious in the primary fight and said the results would send a message about the will of southeast Queens residents.

“Southeast Queens does not like people imposing things on it,” he said. “This election will show that.”

The Democratic primary will be held Sept. 13.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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