By Patrick Donachie
On Election Day, voters will choose to fill the New York State Assembly seat left vacant by the death of Assemblywoman Barbara Clark. The race is one of several in the southeast Queens area.
Clyde Vanel, an attorney and community advocate, won a hard-fought Democratic primary campaign in September against four other challenges to win the nomination from the party.
Clark died in February after serving in the State Legislature since 1986. The district she represented includes parts of Cambria Heights, Glen Oaks, Queens Village, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. Vanel stressed that he wanted to help downtown Jamaica become a bustling area for industry and quality employment, using the term “Silicon Jamaica.”
“How are we addressing the need to be able to have careers, to be able to start businesses, to sustain ourselves in New York City?” he said. “We need to ensure that our community can get good-paying jobs right here.”
Vanel will face Republican challenger Goldy-Francois Wellington, who is also running on the Conservative Party ticket. Leroy Gadsden, the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Jamaica branch, is also on the ballot for the seat, under the “NIP-New Ideas” party. Gadsden briefly considered running for the seat in the Democratic primary, but opted against a run.
State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) is facing a general election challenge for his seat in the 14th District, which includes parts of Jamaica, Hollis, Cambria Heights, St. Albans and Queens Village. Comrie ran unopposed in the Democratic primary but will be facing a challenger in the general election. Comrie served as a New York City councilman for 11 years before running for the state senate in 2013 and winning the election.
Comrie is facing Republican challenger Jarret Freeman, who currently works as a representative at the United Nations Pathway for Peace, and stresses maintaining infrastructure, keeping streets safe and expanding funding for early childhood education. Freeman said he had heard concerns about hotels in the area being used by the city to house homeless individuals, and pledged to created a bipartisan commission on the issue.
“I think that we really have to be cognizant of who we’re putting in office, not just at the presidential level but at the local level,” he said. “A lot of Democrats came up to me and were impressed with the things I want to do here in southeast Queens.”
State Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) is in a general election primary, though it is against the same challenger he faced during the Democratic primary. Adrienne Adams, who is the chairwoman of Community Board 12, which includes much of Jamaica, is running on the Woman’s Equality party line.
The general election will be held on Nov. 8. To find out if you are registered and to find your proper polling place, visit https://nyc.polls
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona