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Councilwoman Marshall joins borough prez race

City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) kicked off her campaign for borough president with a fund-raiser at Antun’s in Queens Village last Thursday evening.

Several of her colleagues in the Council and former colleagues in the state Assembly came out in support of Marshall, who was endorsed by the head of the Queens Democratic Party, Tom Manton, in May.

Marshall is the first black candidate selected by the Democrats for a boroughwide position and is running against fellow Democrats, City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), former Board of Education President Carol Gresser and community activist Haydee Zambrana of Queens Village. City Councilman Alfonse Stabile (R-Ozone Park) is running on the Republican line.

“I am forever grateful to the Queens County organization,” Marshall said at the event. “Tom Manton had a hell of a job trying to figure this out.”

Soon after Manton decided to back Marshall, City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) dropped out of the borough president race.

Marshall thanked them for stepping aside and supporting her candidacy. Koslowitz also endorsed Marshall at the fund-raiser.

“As you know, I was running, but I am happy to step aside for Helen Marshall,” Koslowitz said. “I have known Helen for 10 years and we work very, very well together. Everybody loves Helen.”

With all 14 Queens council members and the borough president serving out their last year in office due to term limits, it has been a turbulent year for politics in Queens, but Manton’s endorsements united the Queens Democratic machine.

“I am an organization Democrat,” City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills) said of the Queens Democratic Party. “I think all the candidates are good candidates, but the organization picked Helen and you can’t split the apple up — you can’t make apple sauce.”

After Manton’s endorsement, Marshall received support from Democrats at all levels of Queens politics from the City Council to members of the U.S. Congress.

“She is the only choice for borough president,” said state Sen. Ada Smith (D-Jamaica).

A longtime friend and college of Marshall, City Council Deputy Majority Leader Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans) also came to the fund-raiser to support her.

“I have known Helen for more years than I can remember,” Spigner said. “I respect her, I admire her and I believe if given the job, she’ll represent all of the diverse communities of Queens.”

The audience at the fund-raiser was nearly as diverse as the county of Queens itself as legislators, community leaders and candidates from Flushing to Bayside to Howard Beach came to support of the councilwoman.

“I have represented the most diverse part of this county,” Marshall said of her 21st Council District, which includes Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Jackson Height, Flushing Meadows and Corona Park. “And when I look at the people in this room, this is Queens.”

Marshall’s guests enjoyed a buffet-style dinner including salmon, fried chicken pasta while listening to the live band play, such classics as “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Stand By Me.”

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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