Embattled State Senator Shirley Huntley lost her Democratic primary to City Councilman James Sanders Thursday night. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
After three terms in the City Council, James Sanders is getting ready to head to Albany. The councilman defeated embattled State Senator Shirley Huntley after a hard fought and sometimes contentious race.
"My friends. You did it!" Sanders told supporters.
A tearful Sanders thanked his supporters after handily beating Huntley in a race where he was considered the underdog. Huntley, who was elected to the State Senate in 2006, out fundraised Sanders, but she had a cloud over her re-election campaign. Last month, she was indicted on felony corruption charges. That arrest was the deciding factor for many voters.
Huntley pleaded not guilty to charges that she helped a niece and an aide steal money that a non profit agency was supposed to use to help poor parents navigate the school district. In response, Sanders is pledging transparency.
"We pledge clean government, a respect for government. This is not our money. This is the people's money. We don't have the right to spend it as we wish," Sanders said.
Sanders is set to represent the newly formed 10th State Senate District which includes parts of Jamaica, South Ozone Park, Far Rockaway and Springfield Gardens. Although he faces a general election opponent in November, the district is heavily Democratic, making it almost certain he will win. Sanders says on Friday he will hit the ground running. His team is organizing a meet and greet with the community.
The district is ethnically diverse and Sanders says his mission is to represent everyone equally. His supporters who gathered Thursday night say they believe he's up to the challenge.