By Patrick Donachie
State Sen. James Sanders (D-Rochdale Village) defeated Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams in a hard-fought match in which the Queens Democratic Party backed the challenger over the incumbent.
Sanders received 56.8 percent of the vote, with 188 out of 192 precincts reporting, according to an unofficial vote count from the state Board of Elections. Adams received 41.4 percent of the vote, according to the BOE. In all, he received 5,010 votes out of 8,814 cast, according to the BOE tally.
Sanders hosted a victory party at Pa-Nash Restaurant at 144-14 243rd St. in Rosedale.
“My opponent ran a spirited race and should be commended for it,” he said. “We have been given a mandate to move forward and shall.”
He was elected to the state Senate in 2012 after serving in the City Council for 12 years representing parts of southeastern Queens. During his tenure as councilman, he was the first African-American chairman of the Economic Development Committee in city history.
Earlier this year, Sanders briefly considered challenging U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) for his Congressional seat, and Adams said she joined the race after Sanders expressed an interest in higher office. Sanders withdrew from the Congressional race and declared his intention to run for re-election to the Senate a short time later.
The Queens Democratic Party endorsed Adams in the race, and many notable Queens political figures subsequently offered their endorsements, including Borough President Melinda Katz, the Rev. Floyd Flake of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral, Council members Elizabeth Crowley and Rory Lancman and Public Advocate Letitia James.
“I offer an olive branch. If they are serious about supporting the people, then we need to work together,” Sanders said. “I’m speaking about the Queens Democratic Party Organization. Let us serve the people together.” He received the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio and several unions and noted during the course of the campaign many of the lawmakers endorsing Adams were from outside the district. He said during the race that his consideration to run against Meeks, as well as his support for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary this year, pushed the Democratic Party of the borough to support his challenger.
A spokesman for Adams said she would continue as chair of Community Board 12.
“Last night’s results serve to prove that there is still a strong desire across southeast Queens and Rockaway to see real change come to the 10th State Senate District,” the spokesman said. “Adrienne Adams brought experience, passion and, most importantly, integrity to this race and that resonated with a great many voters.”
Turnout had been sparse earlier in the day at Public School 52 in Springfield Gardens, but many poll workers said there would likely be a crunch in the evening hours. A poll coordinator at PS 52 said there had been about 30 voters at the polls as of 11:30 a.m., and from past experience she said she expected about 200 voters on a typical primary day. Turnout had also been reported as low in the Rockaways in the early afternoon.
“I feel like everybody’s waiting for November,” the PS 52 poll coordinator said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona