Guyanese wins special election in Canarsie

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud with Councilman Jumaane Williams. Both came out against Trump before and after the election.
Photo by Nelson A. King

A Guyanese-born legislator has won a special election to fill a Brooklyn seat that was left vacant after Guyanese-American New York State Sen. John L. Sampson was convicted in July of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in a U.S. federal corruption case.

Consequently, Sampson, the son of a Guyanese father, was forced to relinquish the 19th senatorial district seat in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.

Roxanne Jacqueline Persaud, who was elected to the New York State Assembly in November 2014, as representative for the 59th Assembly District, also in Canarsie, resoundingly beat two challengers in Tuesday’s elections for the 19th Senatorial District.

Persaud, 49 – who had the backing of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Party and won on the Democratic, Independent and Women’s Equality party lines – garnered 6,980 votes, or 88 percent, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.

Jeffrey Ferretti, the Republic Party challenger, received 702 votes, or 9 percent; and Conservative Party opponent Elias Weir got 245 votes, or 3 percent.

“Great! Great!” Persaud told Caribbean Life late Tuesday night when asked about her victory.

“Fabulous! I’m happy all the waiting is over, so I can get to do the work,” added Persaud amid victory celebrations at the powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club in Canarsie that had endorsed her. “It shows hard work pays off.”

Persaud, who had migrated from Guyana to New York with her parents and siblings, when she was 19 years old, said she had no qualms running for Sampson’s old seat.

“I’m not happy with what’s happening, but you have to do what you have to do,” she said. “When an opportunity presents itself, you follow, and you do it.

“I know I can continue my work,” she added. “As senator, I will work to bring all the communities together and to make sure they have equal representation.”

Persaud, who was the first female to represent the 59th Assembly District and lives in Canarsie, said she is a “longtime advocate for her community and an avid volunteer.”

She said her dedication to serving her community motivated her to serve in various capacities. She was President of the 69th Precinct Community Council in Canarsie, member of Community Board 18 and Commissioner on the New York City Districting Commission.

In addition, Persaud said she is a graduate of the New York Police Department (NYPD) Citizens Police Academy, as well as the New York City Office of Emergency Management-Community Emergency Response Team.

She is also a member of Community Action Board of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and chairperson of the Neighborhood Advisory Board – District 18.

Persaud said she serves on organizations fighting domestic violence and cancer awareness.

But she said her dedication to community involvement and interest in helping others stretch beyond Brooklyn.

Persaud said she has traveled overseas on several occasions as a volunteer on medical and social outreach programs, and urges constituents to be actively involved in the community.

A graduate of Pace University in New York, from which she holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Education Administration, Persaud said she spent her entire career working in higher education institutions.

She said she also works tirelessly in encouraging urban youth to attend college.

Persaud said her district legislative priorities include funding for schools, youth and senior support services, libraries and parks.

She said she intends to work with her legislative colleagues in ensuring that the 19th Senatorial District gets the resources it needs.

More from Around NYC