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Chain leads pack in fund-raising

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The race to replace City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) is heating up now that candidates have filed signatures to get on the ballot for the Democrat primary and the latest fund-raising numbers showed Heidi Harrison Chain has boosted herself to the top financially.

According to numbers released by Democratic candidates in the 29th Council District campaign, Harrison Chain probably leads her challengers after filing more than 5,300 signatures with the city Board of Electionslast Thursday.

Individuals running for office have to submit at least 900 signatures with the city in order to land a spot on the ballot for September’s primary.

“We want to thank everyone who helped our campaign during these past five weeks,” Chain wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “… After the hard work of our volunteers and campaign staff, we are thrilled to report that we obtained over five times the number of signatures required.”

Lynn Schulman also said she submitted more than five times the number of signatures required, which is 900 names. Schulman did not say whether or not she had more than Chain’s 5,300, and the board did not return phone calls in response to the number of signatures candidates gathered.

Albert Cohen obtained about 3,300 signatures; Karen Koslowitz said she got about 2,700; Michael Cohen had some 1,900 signatures; and Gagarin’s campaign manager said he had more than the 900 required.

Despite trailing other candidates in signatures, Koslowitz, who has won the support of big names like the United Federation of Teachers and the Queens County Democrats, said she remains positive about her campaign.

“Things are going great,” Koslowitz said. “My volunteer base is very large. I have at least 100 volunteers that are going out for me.”

So far there have been 19 challenges filed against candidates for District 29, which includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and parts of Richmond Hill, Maspeth and Elmhurst. Three challenges have been filed against Heidi Harrison Chain, three against Albert Cohen, five against Michael Cohen, three against Mel Gagarin, two against Karen Koslowitz, and three against Lynn Schulman.

“We’ve done good work petitioning, but we expected to be challenged,” said Lilianna Zulunova, campaign manager for Albert Cohen. “Three challenges — that’s not bad.”

Chain has raised the most money so far, according to filings with the city Campaign Finance Board last week. Chain has a total of $78,833; Schulman has about $73,595 — though she said the board incorrectly posted her contributions, which she said total near $80,000; Koslowitz has $68,864; Michael Cohen has $34,903; Gagarin has about $12,944; and Albert Cohen raised $5,308.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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