Marshall confident in final days of beep race

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With less than a week before the election for Queens borough president, Democratic nominee City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) seemed confident but cautious as she moved along in her campaign for the borough’s top post.

Marshall, who won the Democratic primary last month by a wide margin, said despite her success in an overwhelmingly Democratic borough she would not discount the challenge from her Republican opponent, City Councilman Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park).

If elected Marshall, a former teacher and 19-year veteran of politics, would be the first black and the second woman to hold the title of Queens borough president.

“Of course, the hardest battle is behind me,” she said, referring to the Democratic primary in a telephone interview Monday night. “We do have a Republican opponent, and I’m taking nothing for granted.”

The longtime city councilwoman spoke on a cellular phone as she traveled from one political event to another. Marshall said she was slated to attend at least five different campaign-related events during a four hour span on Monday evening.

“My life is like this anyway,” she said, laughing. “I’m accustomed to crazy nights” with a crowded agenda.

Marshall said she thought her campaign had been going well in the weeks leading up to the next week’s election and that despite having the World Trade Center tragedy in their backyard, Queens people were ready and waiting for the big vote.

“The people at this point are very familiar with all of us,” she said, referring to the candidates. Despite the fact that the Nov. 6 election will be the fourth in the city since Sept. 11, “the people understand. They all seem to know there’s an election,” she said.

The original primary was underway Sept. 11 and canceled after the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists. That election was rescheduled for Sept. 25 and a mayoral run-off was held Oct. 11.

In a heavily Democratic borough Marshall — who captured 51 percent of the primary vote Sept. 25 — was expected to cruise into office over Stabile. Marshall defeated well-known Democrats City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) and Carol Gresser, a former Board of Education president, in the primary.

Stabile, who has not run an active campaign, has been under investigation by the Queens district attorney’s office for allegedly misusing Ozone Park Little League funds.

With victory near at hand, Marshall has been preparing to fill the post that will be left vacant by longtime Borough President Claire Shulman. The much-beloved Shulman has held the job for about 15 years and was the first woman elected to the borough presidency in Queens. Term limits prevent Shulman from seeking another round in office.

At least partial evidence of Marshall’s expected victory came at last month’s Borough Board meeting when Shulman introduced the 10-year veteran of the City Council as the new borough president and seemed to dismiss the notion that a general election against Stabile would be an obstacle.

Marshall spent nine years in the state Assembly before being elected to the City Council to represent Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona a decade ago.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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