Sanders defeats indicted incumbent Huntley in State Senate primary

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Councilmember James Sanders, who won the District 10 State Senate primary, makes his election night victory speech. THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola
Councilmember James Sanders, who won the District 10 State Senate primary, makes his election night victory speech.

Incumbent State Senator Shirley Huntley, who just a few weeks ago was charged with tampering, falsifying business records and conspiracy, lost her District 10 seat.

Before her arrest, Huntley was already facing a viable challenger in the Democratic primary, Councilmember James Sanders, the September 13 winner.

Early numbers coming in showed Sanders ahead, but the results that Huntley’s campaign got at one point may have given the senator and some of her supporters, who were gathered at Rochdale Village, hope that she was going to keep her seat.

Around 10:30 p.m., loud cheers were heard coming from inside that gathering, which was closed to media.

Shortly after, many of those in attendance came out in a seemingly joyful mood. One, a woman decked out in a “Shirley Huntley for State Senate” T-shirt and button, was chanting, “Sanders needs a job!”

Huntley then came out, only saying that she was tired, and quickly got into a car.

But it was Sanders and his supporters who ended up celebrating a win, not Huntley.

Around 11:45 p.m., Sanders, who also faced off against real estate professional Gian A. Jones, made his victory speech at his election night party in Richmond Hill.

With all the precincts reporting, he won 57.1 percent of the vote, according to numbers released by the New York Times.

Huntley received 39.9 percent and Jones won 3 percent.

Sanders does not have a Republican opponent in the general election, and is now the State Senator-elect.

“We pledge clean government, respectful government. This is not our money. This is the people’s money. We don’t have the right to spend it as we wish,” he said in his victory speech.

On August 28, the day after Huntley’s arrest for allegedly helping to cover up the fraudulent use of state money, Sanders called for Huntley to exit the race.

Pleading not guilty to the charges, Huntley, who has held the seat since 2007, refused to give up her campaign.

Neither Huntley nor her campaign could be reached for comment following her loss.

Along with thanking his campaign staff and those who believed that he could win when everyone said he couldn’t beat an incumbent state senator, Sanders also mentioned in his victory speech what he hoped to do for his community.

Sanders’ chief of staff, Donovan Richards, reportedly wants to run for his boss’ soon to be vacated seat.

“He’s the right pick to replace me in the city council,” said Sanders.