A true product of Southeast Queens and a proud son of the Rockaway Peninsula, James Sanders, Jr. was born in the Hammel Houses of Far Rockaway in 1957. A graduate of Far Rockaway High School, he served in the United States Marine Corps for three years before earning a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1984.
Sanders’ passion for public service was ignited as a young man. Serving in the company of the former United States Congressman, Reverend Floyd Flake, Sanders worked to engineer civic and community projects that helped to revitalize the social and economic prospects of Far Rockaway. In the mid 1980’s, he began to take an interest in youth and educational affairs, working to organize and assist students and other youth throughout the Rockaways and beyond. He served as the first African American President of Queens School Board 27 for seven of the ten years he was a member.
In 2001, Sanders decided it was time to channel his energies and passion for public service into the City Council. In 2001, Sanders was elected to the New York City Council from the 31st Council District, representing the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Edgemere, Bayswater, Arverne, and Far Rockaway.
Immediately having impact in his new role, former Councilman Sanders was unanimously voted the first African-American Chair of the Economic Development Committee in the history of New York City. As Chair, Sanders had oversight of the Economic Development Corporation, and the Department of Small Business Services. Among his achievements during his charge of the committee, he commissioned a major study that became the basis upon which NYC reinstated affirmative action.
Throughout his career, James Sanders Jr. has been a leading advocate and champion for the working people and families of his district, and has led battles against some of the worst influences affecting the Southeastern Queens community. He authored the toughest anti-predatory lending bill in the country, and has passed legislation criminalizing the sale of ammunition to minors. He rebuilt and updated many of the parks and libraries in his 31st Council District, and hosts a yearly music concert series, the Garvey-Tubman Series, in conjunction with the Margert Community Corporation of Far Rockaway.
Along with the NYPD, he sponsored a gun buy-back program that removed more than 900 guns from the streets. He led the charge against sexual assaults throughout Queens, forming a women’s coalition of community activists to champion safety and other issues affecting women.
A lifelong champion of public education, he vigorously supported the expansion of science and technology in schools in District 31, allocating $50,000 per school per year for the purchase of new technologies.
James Sanders Jr. served as chair of the Civil Service and Labor committee, and was a member of the Land Use, Economic Development, Community Development, Veterans and Juvenile Justice Committees as a member of the New York City Council.
On September 13, 2012 James Sanders Jr. was elected to represent the 10th Senatorial District, in Queens. Senator Sanders is currently a Ranking Member of Civil Services & Pensions and Social Services committees. He also sits on the following:
- Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
- Banking Committee
- Veterans Committee
- Wagering and Gambling
- Veterans Committee
- Economic Development
- Authored toughest anti-predatory lending bills anywhere in America.
- Has fought to bring new commerce and economic opportunities to his district.
- Held hearing calling for fair wages, benefits and the right of these workers to unionize.
- Conducted workshops for those in foreclosure, and worked with community groups to provide financial consultants to those in need.
- Commissioned study which became basis on which NYC re-instituted policies of affirmative action and enhanced opportunities for women and minority owned businesses.
Quality of Life
- Worked together with the civic groups to rebuild public parks, open up access to clean spaces, and build new playgrounds.
- Led the charge against the abuse of car wash workers, city wide.
- Traffic lights on Beach 59th St. and Arverne Blvd., and Beach Channel Drive.
- Fought to have drink called “Cocaine” banned nationally after Redux beverages tried to flood store shelves with the drink.
- Has fought for the removal of other dangerous beverages and narcotic imitators, including “Spice”, “Joose” among others.
- New sewer pipes installed on 235th St Executive Motor Inn’s license temporarily revoked, and forced to re-organize.
- Worked to get Brookville Road (Snake Road) repaved with new traffic light on 149th street.
- Fought to draw attention to severe flooding in his district, and the ancillary issues it causes including disease, water and property damage, mosquitoes, and pollution.
Crime and Safety
- Worked with community groups and the NYPD to host gun buy-back program that has removed 900 guns from our streets.
- Authored of “bullet bill” that has made it more difficult for minors to get access to bullets.
- Led the charge against sexual assaults, and organized his staff to create a women’s coalition to raise awareness about women’s issues.
- Led the charge against the “Hot Sheet Motel” in Springfield Gardens.
- Successful in removing air pistols and BB guns from the shelves of a local multi-national retail store.
Youth and Education
- Provided $50,000 per year to schools for technology and computer upgrade purchases.
- Called on the City to issue a temporary freeze on jail expansion within walking distance of P.S. 52.
- Installation of a traffic light at B. 9th and Hicksville Road in Far Rockaway, adjacent to both an elementary school and Yeshiva.
- Canceled suspension site that was scheduled to be placed at Springfield Gardens High School.
- Founding member of the Rockaway Youth Taskforce, which examines and addresses local issues facing Rockaway residents.