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On Sept. 25, 2001, the political landscape in Queens was dramatically and irreversibly altered. In an election that was largely ignored by a city still deeply in mourning and shock, history was made. For the first time, an African-American woman has received a Democratic Party nomination to run for boroughwide office. At the same time, an Asian-American was chosen to run for City Council on the Democratic ticket in Flushing.
To be certain, the battle is not over for Helen Marshall, who received the Democratic Party nomination to run for borough president. The councilwoman, who also served in the state Assembly, will run in the general election against Republican Alfonso Stabile, from Ozone Park. Stabile is an experienced politician who enjoys enormous support in his home district. Nevertheless her accomplishment is evidence that the walls of race are beginning to crumble in Queens.
Remarkably, Marshall won more than 50 percent of the votes in a rave against two formidable opponents Board of Education President Carol Gresser and longtime City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis).
In Flushing, John Liu, an Asian American, won the Democratic Primary in the 20th Council District. For the first time, the Asian-American community in Queens is beginning to flex its political muscle. Liu won a narrow victory, defeating his closest opponent in a four-way race by about 150 votes. But that opponent, librarian and community activist Ethel Chen, is also an Asian American. Combined they won about 60 percent of the vote. Make no mistake about it, from now on the Asian-American community in Queens will be a political force to be reckoned with.
Queens has long been one of the most diverse places in America. On Primary Day, Queens came of age. The doors to the political system are wide open.
Editorial: Should Rudy stay?
In a democracy, the people giveth and the people can taketh away. In a referendum, the people of New York City forced the hands of state legislators to pass term limits. Last week, due largely to term limits, voters took the first step in electing a new City Council. Every council member in Queens will be replaced on Jan. 1.
Now there are rumblings. A great many of those New Yorkers who supported term limits are looking for some way to let Mayor Giuliani run for a third term at City Hall. For this to happen, the state Legislature would have to amend or do away entirely with the term limits law.
We were skeptical at first about the efficacy of term limits. We realized that Queens would be losing the services of skilled public servants such as Councilmen Sheldon Leffler and Mike Abel (R-Bayside). Nevertheless, the will of the people was clear. And there is no denying that term limits created a very exciting primary.
But this is the bottom line: It was the voters who gave New York City term limits and, with only minutes left in the fourth quarter, the voters have the right to reconsider. Albany could change the law to allow a write-in for Rudy Giuliani in November. If it becomes clear that this is the will of the people, Albany should put the brakes on term limits.
Editorial: Olympic courage
It is altogether understandable that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center has caused some Queens residents to have second thoughts about holding the Olympics in New York City in 2012. But to withdraw from the race for the right to stage the Olympics here would hand a victory to Osama Bin Laden and his wretched flock.
The war against terrorism has just begun. With international support, we are confident that the U.S. military forces will put an end to state-sponsored terrorism. America was caught napping. That will not happen again.
If New York wins the right to stage the 2012 Olympics, the Olympic Village will be created in Hunters Point. The Astoria pool will be renovated for Olympic events. The eyes of the world will be on Queens.
Just as the Olympics celebrate the triumph of the individual, the Olympic Committee by staging the Olympics here would be paying tribute to this city's and this nation's triumph over incredible adversity. Indeed, in the past three weeks, the free world has been united around the pain, suffering and heroism at Ground Zero. New York City has become the living embodiment of all that the Olympics stand for. The Olympics celebrate courage and New York City has shown incredible courage.
If they find the courage to hold this most important international event here, the organizers would be sending a message that the free people of the world will not be defeated by the forces of violence, hatred and intolerance.
We can think of more than 7,000 reasons why the Olympiad should be held here.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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