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Photo courtesy of the office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr.
Senator James Sanders Jr., left, joins Cynthia Nixon, candidate for NYS Governor, Roderick Caesar III, Senior Pastor of Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church and Bishop Roderick Caesar, Overseer of Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church.

Dozens of faith-based leaders gathered in Jamaica on Aug. 17 for state Senator James Sanders’ monthly Community Clergy Breakfast at Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church.

Cynthia Nixon, the current Democratic Party challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo and former actress, served as the guest speaker. She spoke on a number of topics, including education, criminal justice reform and economic development, and how her proposed initiatives could impact the southeast Queens area.

“Your vote is an investment,” said Sanders, who has not endorsed any candidate for governor as of yet. “You have to ask yourself, ‘How is the rate of return on my investment? Is it sufficiently benefiting the community?’ If it isn’t, then you have to consider looking at who is the manager of your investment.”

Nixon began her talk by addressing the fact that she isn’t accepting any donations from corporations and real estate developers, stating that she “does not want to be a part of what she considers a corrupt culture in Albany.”

Nixon also stated that she wants to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes including millionaires and corporations.

She then went on to discuss her main platform, entitled “Schools not Jails,” which looks to fully fund schools across the state so that all youth have a chance to attend a pre-K program and later the opportunity to go to college for free, whether they wish to learn a trade or study in a different academic field.

In regards to Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), Nixon stated that she would raise the state goal for contracts to these companies from 30 percent, which is currently the highest in the nation, to 35 percent.

“I will work with you as governor and make sure that JFK provides tremendous benefits to local communities,” Nixon said. “The first thing I will do on JFK is to come here to southeast Queens and meet with the community to hear about local needs and local concerns and local priorities. In my administration these needs will be central to the redevelopment of JFK.”

A supporter of the DREAM Act and the Liberty Act, Nixon stated that she is in favor of expanding access to driver’s licenses to include undocumented immigrants, saying that it’s “dangerous to have people on the road who may not know how to drive properly and this step would help eliminate that.” It was also noted that Nixon supports the legalization of the use of recreational marijuana and the expansion of dispensaries that distribute the drug for medical purposes.

Sanders’ Community Clergy Breakfasts tentatively take place on the third Thursday of each month from 8:30 to 11 a.m. The next one is scheduled for Sept. 13.

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