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Koslowitz withdraws from race for boro prez

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) has withdrawn her name from the race for borough president, a decision she said was made in the spirit of party unity.

A week after she informed friends and supporters of her decision, Queens Democratic leader Tom Manton publicly endorsed Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) for the borough president post.

Koslowitz’s withdrawal became known at a candidates’ forum hosted by the United Community Civic Association in Astoria last Thursday when an erroneous note was passed to the presdient of the group saying that both state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) and Koslowitz were pulling out of the race. Pheffer vowed to continue her run, only to drop out herself four days later.

Pheffer said at the meeting she and other Democratic candidates had been seeking Manton’s nod.

“I and Karen Koslowitz and Helen Marshall were looking for the Democratic organization’s endorsement,” she told last Thursday’s meeting. “This afternoon I spoke to Tom Manton, who told me on Monday morning he was going to recommend to the district leaders to nominate Marshall for borough president and [city controller Alan] Hevesi for mayor.”

Koslowitz had met with Queens party leaders before making her decision but said the choice to bow out was entirely her own.

“Nobody asked me to leave the race. It was a decision that I made on my own,” she said. “I’m going to be supporting the party ticket — Hevesi and Marshall and whoever else. It’s not complete yet.”

Koslowitz would not say whether she was aware of Manton’s impending endorsement of Marshall when she withdrew.

Three Democrats are still running for the seat in addition to Marshall: former Board of Education President Carol Gresser; Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis); and community activist Haydee Zambrana of Queens Village. Councilman Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park) is running on the Republican side.

Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) and Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside) pulled out of the race earlier this year.

Koslowitz said she would spend the next seven months serving her constituents until she is forced out of the City Council by term limits. Beyond that, however, she has not made plans.

“I felt this was the right thing for me to do and I got my life back,” she said. “How can you be disappointed to get your life back?”

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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