Homeless advocate Sean Henry has formally announced his bid to unseat State Senator John Sampson, who is mired in legal troubles connected to corruption allegations.
News of Henry’s campaign hit Politicker yesterday, and the campaign issued a press release and launched a website this morning. Among the announcements is that Henry has already put together a professional political team, positioning himself as a serious contender.
According to the candidate’s website, Henry is a Chicago native who faced homelessness as a teenager. He joined the U.S. Army in 1995, and attended Southern Illinois University. He moved to Brooklyn in 2000 to earn a master’s in Public Administration at New York University.
Henry went to work at the Department of Homeless Services, where he worked his way up the ranks to Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, and claims to have spearheaded negotiations between city agencies and private organizations on community-based housing stability services. He most recently worked as a consultant to a non-profit offering community-based services.
“Too many people in this district our struggling, and I understand what that feels like,” said Henry in a press release. “There are people living without hot, running water for weeks on end; people whose ceilings are crumbling before their very eyes. There are kids who aren’t getting the education they deserve at the schools given to them. This situation is unacceptable. The people of the 19th Senate District deserve an elected official that places their needs above all else, and that’s what I will do as their representative.”
Henry, who last year ran for City Council in the 42nd District, an election ultimately won by Inez Barron, appears to mean business. He’s hired political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, as well as professional fundraisers, an election law attorney and an experienced public relations team.
The announcement could spell trouble for State Senator John Sampson, who currently represents the 19th District, which spans a chunk of Sheepshead Bay, as well as Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Bergen Beach and Mill Basin.
Sampson has been facing troubling headlines since May 2013, when he was charged as part of a far ranging corruption scandal.
In March of 2012, Sampson allegedly sought out [former Queens State Senator Shirley] Huntley’s advice after being approached by a businessman allegedly offering bribes in exchange for help regarding his business at Kennedy International Airport. The airport is located in the district Huntley used to represent.
Since then the list has grown longer. It was alleged that the senator sought to silence witnesses in the case suggesting he stole more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes. Later that same month, state officials began investigating the fate of more than $39,000 earmarked for a charity for inner city youth. He is also being eyed for three cases of campaign donations that seemed to vanish from Sampson’s accounts, and allegations that businessmen who lobbied his office were charged retainer fees for duties that are supposed to be part of his job as a legislator.
Sampson hasn’t announced what his reelection bid yet, but he continues to maintain innocence in the investigations. According to Politicker, if Sampson decides to run for reelection he will have the hard job of clearing his name with the public and beating two challengers. The other challenger to the seat is Leon Miles, another former Council candidate.