Forest Hills civic leader seeks state senate seat

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A longtime civic activist from Forest Hills has joined the race to represent the newly formed 16th Senate District in the fall election.

Marcia Lynn, known best for helping to chase a strip club out of Forest Hills, will challenge the incumbent, Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and former City Council and state Assembly member Julia Harrison for the Democratic nomination.

Under the proposed redistricting plans, which have not been approved yet, the area to be represented would stretch from Astoria to Forest Hills to Flushing and up to Bay Terrace.

“This is going to be a tough race and I know that,” said Lynn, who announced her candidacy at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center May 28. “But I’m a grassroots person. That’s my way. That’s who I am and I think the voters will see that.”

Unlike her opponents, Lynn has never held an elected office, but she has been a member of several civic associations and public interest groups, making her a recognizable figure in the Forest Hills community.

Lynn, who is a single mother of a seventh-grade girl, made a name for herself during her 1993 efforts to oust strip club Runway 69 from its Austin Street and 70th Avenue location in Forest Hills. Several of the city’s newspapers, television stations, and talk shows watched as she successfully led protests against the club.

A year earlier, Lynn also helped pressure local politicians and the Parks Department into renovating the community’s once-rundown Yellowstone Park, she said. Since then, she started and ran a political newspaper, The City Hall News, for two years and is now on a leave of absence from the Department of Environmental Protection, where she works in public affairs.

Lynn said she will highlight the city’s public school system during her campaign, especially her view that teachers are underpaid and under appreciated.

“As a state legislator, my big thing is going to be schools,” she said, complaining about the services her daughter received at PS 172 in Floral Park while struggling with emotional problems related to Sept. 11. “This is definitely the worst system imaginable.”

Lynn said she thinks the commuter tax, which was repealed by state legislators, including Stavisky’s late husband Leonard, could have alleviated some of the city’s budget woes.

She also plans to discuss issues concerning seniors—prescription drug costs and housing—during the campaign in which she is considered a dark horse candidate. “I have no problems with being the underdog,” she said. “I have a record of achievement that I would put up against any of them.”

Lynn said she began thinking about running after state Sen. Daniel Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) decided not to seek another term in Albany following the realignment of his district.

Julia Harrison did not express any concern over having a third candidate in the race. “The more the merrier,” she said.

On the Republican side of the race, Mitchell Schwadron, a prison locksmith from Flushing, said he is the only person currently vying for the nomination.

The proposed senate district, which would take 61 percent of Hevesi’s current 13th District, would cover parts of Astoria, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Flushing, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Jamaica Estates and Fresh Meadows.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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