A Challenger Emerges for State Senator James Sanders

State Senator James Sanders. (Photo: Facebook)

State Senator James Sanders. (Photo: Facebook)

An old rival has emerged to challenge State Senator James Sanders again.

Gian Jones, a real estate professional and ex-Assembly aide who ran against Mr. Sanders two years ago, is throwing his hat back into the ring for the southeast Queens-based seat.

“I’m running because I think I can do a better job than the current senator is doing,” Mr. Jones told the Observer. “Time and time again, I’ve heard the incumbent is good on talk, bad on delivery. I want to be okay on talk, great on delivery.”

Gian Jones. (Photo: Jones Campaign)

Gian Jones. (Photo: Jones Campaign)

Mr. Jones ran in 2012 against Mr. Sanders and the senate incumbent at the time, Shirley Huntley, garnering only 3 percent of the vote. Ms. Huntley lost the race and was eventually convicted on corruption charges.

The Far Rockaway resident is hoping, however, that dissatisfaction with Mr. Sanders will allow him to perform far better this time around. Mr. Jones wants to bring more economic development to the district, restore a hospital that was closed and improve transportation options.

Mr. Jones, who charged without providing evidence that Mr. Sanders was too preoccupied with dreams of higher office to focus on his constituents, is banking on a past felony conviction not weighing down his candidacy. While Mr. Jones served five months in federal prison for a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, he said he wants to show people in the district that reform is possible.

“My conviction–though I feel it’s unjust–it was a learning experience that allows me to talk to young people who have gone through the criminal justice system and don’t know their rights,” Mr. Jones said. “When I say I’m running for State Senate and ‘oh by the way, I did everything right in life and I still got a felony conviction,’ I still get their attention. It’s not something I’m ashamed of.”

Mr. Sanders did not immediately return a request for comment.