City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) plans to challenge state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) for the 10th District seat, according to a political source.
Although he has not made an official announcement, word is that Sanders, who will be term-limited out in 2013, is eyeing the spot because the district now includes some of his home turf in the Rockaways — an area Huntley picked up thanks to redistricting.
“It’s almost an open seat the way the lines were drawn,” Mike Lopes, a spokesman for Sanders, said today. “It’s just an opportunity that arose from what happened to be favorable redistricting lines. It included people he already represented and who knew him.”
Huntley, however, did not seem to be too concerned, telling the Chronicle, “I still have a large part of my district, and I have friends in the Rockaways.” She added, “It’s just a race. I have a race every year. I’ll just prepare and go out and do what I do.”
Huntley was elected to office in 2007. Two years later, she became chairwoman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, sponsoring and helping pass 16 bills including Timothy’s Law, which provides increased medical treatment and coverage to those with mental illnesses.
In 2010 Huntley became chairwoman of the Cities Committee, addressing concerns about property taxes, unfunded mandates, and pension reform. That same year she helped pass 22 bills including the Hospital Closure Act, which requires the state heath commissioner to hold a hearing within 30 days of a hospital closure to determine the impact it would have on the area it serves.
Sanders, who is well-known in his district as a charismatic speaker with a friendly demeanor, has represented the areas of Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, Arverne, Bayswater and Edgemere since 2001.
During his time in office he became the first African-American chairman of the Economic Development Committee in city history, winning by a unanimous vote. Sanders is the author of the toughest anti-predatory lending bill in the country, according to his biography on the City Council’s website, and has passed legislation criminalizing the sale of ammunition to minors.
Sanders also sponsored a gun buyback program, along with the NYPD, which got more than 900 guns off the streets in 2009. In order to improve education, he allocates $50,000 for each school in his district annually to expand science and technology curriculum.