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Zulunova drops bid for state Assembly

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Lilianna Zulunova ended her bid for state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s (D-Forest Hills) seat last week, saying she was pulling the plug on her campaign in order to spend more time with her new husband.

Zulunova, 27, was married May 3 to Rabbi Emanuel Yelizarov, of the LeFrak Jewish Center.

“This is an exciting time for my family and me,” Zulunova said in a statement she e-mailed to supporters Friday. “It’s with this in mind that I have decided to put my family first and end my campaign. My obligations as a wife, and eventually as a mother, give me the certainty that this is the right decision for me at this time.”

The former candidate’s exit leaves two Democrats vying for the 28th Assembly District seat, which covers Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Glendale and Maspeth. Hevesi, who landed 73 percent of the vote in the last election, is running again for his seat, as is Joe Fox, an attorney from Forest Hills. Zulunova is not endorsing either candidate right now, according to her spokesman, Steven Stites.

“I would like to congratulate Lilianna on starting her new life and wish her and her husband the best of luck,” Fox said. “I hope to talk with her within the next several days to make sure that her issues are raised in the coming campaign.”

Hevesi did not return a phone call for comment.

The second Bukharian Jew from the Forest Hills area to run for political office, Zulunova decided last year to launch her bid for Hevesi’s seat. She was the campaign manager for Albert Cohen, the first Bukharian to make a bid for higher office. He ran against now-City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).

She had spent months working on her campaign, including countless hours going door to door-to-speak to district residents and holding fund-raisers.

“I thank everyone who supported my campaign, who volunteered, who gave what they could give to the cause,” Zulunova said in her prepared statement. “I will always remember the look in the eyes of people who are desperate for change, for reform, for leaders who understand them and will fight for them. This passion and support kept me strong during the campaign and will stay with me in the next stage of my life.”

Hevesi has not addressed Zulunova’s campaign or Fox’s run against him, but he has said he looks “forward to running on my record of results for the neighborhoods I represent and laws I’ve written that have positively impacted people throughout New York state.”

The assemblyman has recently pushed a number of environmental bills, including legislation that passed the Assembly last month and which aims to create a more comprehensive alternative energy policy for the state.

Fox, a Community Board 6 member, has said his platform campaign issues include addressing the state’s budget deficit, education funding, school overcrowding and traffic congestion.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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