Queens will have its first African-American borough president. Helen Marshall, with the strong support of Borough President Claire Shulman and the Democratic County Organization, won a stunning victory in the Democratic primary for Borough President against both former Board of Education head Carol Gresser and Councilman Sheldon Leffler. Marshall garnered close to 50% of the total vote against her two opponents, winning an impressive victory.
Marshall is one of the few public officials who have ever served in the New York State Assembly, the New York City Council and now in Borough Hall as Queens next Borough President. Over the past thirty years, she has also been a major leader of the Democratic party both locally and nationwide, having served for many years as both Queens Democratic District Leader and on the Democratic National Committee.
Over the past weeks, Marshall, who had been trailing Gresser, pulled even and then pulled ahead due in large part to one of the strongest and most competent campaigns ever waged by the Democratic Organization. When it became clear that the Organizations Mayoral choice, Alan Hevesi, could not win, County took everyone off the Hevesi campaign and sent them to work for Marshall. Campaign signs and leaflets appeared everywhere. Campaign phone banks worked day and night in the final week before the Sept. 11th primary and had the primary been held on Sept. 11th, it is clear that Marshall would have upset Gresser. In the two weeks of enforced silence after the World Trade Center events, Marshalls lead solidified. She trounced Gresser in the Sept. 25th primary that followed.
While Marshall will undoubtedly be grateful to the Democratic Organization for its support, she need not be Countys puppet.
She is a leader of the citywide stature of David Dinkins and will only grow more so in Borough Hall. Watch for Marshall to be a strong and deeply competent leader of Queens in the coming years.