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Seventh Democrat in Race to Succeed Shulman

By Carleste Hughes

February 22, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Newsday. All Rights Reserved.

The campaign for Queens borough president just got more crowded.

Saying she is long on supporters but short on dollars, Haydee Zambrana, a community advocate in Corona, became the ninth contender in the race yesterday.

"I don't have a cent," said Zambrana, 54, a bilingual education counselor and founder of Latin Woman in Action, an 11-year-old Corona community advocacy group for Spanish-speaking immigrants. But she added, "I am the only truly independent candidate in the race."

Zambrana launched her candidacy in English and Spanish before a dozen supporters on the steps of Queens Borough Hall. She said she plans to build a campaign team and heftier purse in the coming weeks.

Among her top issues: schools, bilingual education, overcrowded and overpriced housing, and welfare-to-work training. She called herself an outspoken advocate of the ongoing federal amnesty program that allows immigrants to gain legal status . Zambrana, a Democrat, is not the first to want to replace term-limited Borough President Claire Shulman as of Jan. 1.

But Zambrana is the first Hispanic aspirant in a borough in which it's estimated that 28 percent of the nearly 2 million residents are Latino. The six other Democrats in the race are Assemb. Audrey Pheffer of Rockaway Beach; former Board of Education president Carol Gresser; Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz of Forest Hills; Assemb. Tony Seminerio of Richmond Hill; Councilman Sheldon Leffler of Hollis and Councilwoman Helen Marshall of Elmhurst.

The Republican candidates are Councilmen Alfonso Stabile of Ozone Park and Michael Abel of Bayside.

An employee of the Board of Education, Zambrana was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Harlem's El Barrio before moving to Queens.

A mother of two grown children, she said she decided to run for borough president because of her association with COPOLA, or the Latin American Political Committee, a group that recruits Spanish- speaking citizens to run for political office in Queens.

She admits that victory will be difficult because she is beginning without financial backing or an endorsement by the Queens Democratic organization. But she's counting on the borough's large Hispanic population to make her competitive.

"The thousands of people I have helped to make new Americans-I could win with just those votes," Zambrana said.

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