Dozens take first steps for 2001 Queens election

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With a mass exodus of elected city officials set to take place within two years because of term limits, many Queens hopefuls are beginning to lay the groundwork for potential candidacies in the 2001 elections.

Dozens of potential candidates have begun to amass campaign funds or have set up depositories for campaign funds in preparation for the 2001 Queens races, according to documents filed with the New York City Board of Elections for the six-month period ending Jan. 18.

The current Queens borough president and all 14 City Council members from Queens will be replaced in January 2002 because of term limits. In total, 36 City Council members will leave office.

The potential race for the office of borough president, which Claire Shulman will vacate after 15 years, is attracting familiar faces in Queens politics.

Among the Queens Democrats, City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) are eyeing the borough presidency, as is Douglaston native and former Board of Education President Carol Gresser, who has set up a depository for future campaign funds but has not raised any funds yet, according to Board of Elections records.

"I've been developing a candidacy for some time now," said Leffler, who raised $17,092 in campaign funds in the six-month period ending Jan. 18.

Koslowitz, who said she intended to remain in public office and was "looking" at the borough presidency, raised $14,830 in the last six months, according to official documents.

Shulman's director of community boards, Melinda Katz - rumored to be in the running for the borough presidency - could not be reached for comment about her intentions in the 2001 elections, but she was enrolled in the Campaign Finance Board's matching funds program as of Jan. 18.

City Councilman Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside), also mentioned as a potential borough president candidate, could not be reached for comment this week.

On the Republican side, two City Council members have emerged as potential candidates for the borough presidency: Mike Abel (R-Bayside), who raised $13,537 in the six-month period ending Jan. 18, and Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park) who raised $31,300 in the same span, records show.

Expressing aspirations for City Council offices are a mixture of newcomers and longtime observers who are already involved in politics.

Originally from Bayside, Shulman said through her spokesman, Dan Andrews, that she does not intend to retire from politics.

"She only said that she's leaving her options open," said Andrews, who would not confirm or deny rumors that Shulman is considering running for City Council in District 19, which covers much of northeast Queens.

In a statement, Shulman's response was equally vague: "I am raising campaign funds to keep my options open," she said. "One never knows when opportunity knocks."

Shulman has not raised significant funds in the last year, but she has a war chest of more than $60,000, according to the Board of Election documents.

Other political hopefuls in the 19th Councilmanic District, which covers Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Auburndale and Bay Terrace, include civic activist Tony Avella ($14,803 raised in past six months) and John D. Frank (0), who has set up a depositary account but not raised any funds to date, according to documents filed with the Board of Elections for the six month period ending Jan. 18.

In Flushing's 20th City Council District, John Liu amassed $42,760 for his campaign war chest in the past six months, while Martha Flores-Vazquez (0) and Ethel Tao-Ying Chen (0) are also City Council hopefuls, according to official records.

In District 22, covering Astoria and Long Island City, Mike Zapiti ($3,625) has expressed interest in the Council seat to be vacated by Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), who is expected to run for mayor.

Leffler aide Bernice Siegal ($3,810), Holliswood's David Weprin (0), and Jairam Thakral (0) of Fresh Meadows are planning campaigns in District 23, which includes Queens Village, Fresh Meadows, Holliswood and Little Neck.

Potential candidates in District 24, which covers Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Rego Park and parts of Forest Hills, are: Jeff Gottlieb ($2,680), chief of staff to the retiring Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills); Barry Grodenchik (0), chief administrative officer to Shulman; and Vallone aide Jim Jinnaro (0).

In District 26, covering Woodside, Sunnyside and other parts of western Queens, potential candidates include Koslowitz chief of staff Matthew Farrell ($8,545), and John Smythe (0).

In District 27, covering St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Jamaica and other parts of southeast Queens, aspiring candidates are Ishmael Morgan ($2,050) and Cynthia Jenkins (0).

And in District 28, covering Jamaica, Rochdale Village and Richmond Hill, hopefuls include attorney Trevor Rupnarain, who raised $34,550 in the six-month period ending Jan. 11, and Jamaica's Anthony D. Andrews Jr. (0).

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