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Thompson, Koslowitz go out to woo voters in Forest Hills

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Comptroller Bill Thompson, a candidate for mayor, and Council candidate Karen Koslowitz campaigned together in Forest Hills Tuesday afternoon to glean voters in the weeks before the Sept. 15 Democratic primary.

“We’ve been campaigning all over Queens,” Thompson said. “It not only gives you a chance to meet voters but for people to give you ideas.”

Thompson, a Democrat, received a variety of complaints and ideas from residents, with one resident upset about bird droppings under awnings and another suggesting the city should collect taxes from commercial buildings owned by nonprofits, such as churches or schools.

“A lot of ideas people mention in the streets are very valuable,” Thompson said.

Thompson does not give endorsements in primaries, but his spokesman Mike Murphy said the comptroller wanted to spend time in Forest Hills with Koslowitz because he has a “pre-existing relationship with Karen and thinks she has done a great job in the borough president office.”

Koslowitz, a Democrat, is running for the 29th District now represented by Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills). Prior to Katz, Koslowitz represented the district that covers Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and parts of Maspeth and Elmhurst. She is currently president of community boards in Queens.

Many residents enthusiastically shook hands with Thompson, who trails Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the polls, and Koslowitz, who is up against five other Democrats in the primary. Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is also making a bid for the mayor’s seat, and the candidates in the race for Katz’s seat include Heidi Harrison Chain, Albert Cohen, Michael Cohen, Mel Gagarin and Lynn Schulman.

“I want Bill to win,” said Tony Pilla, a Forest Hills resident for 45 years. “I was for our current mayor until he cheated the public on term limits.”

Forest Hills Gardens resident Dat Quach said he plans on voting for Thompson and Koslowitz. Quach, a self-described “die-hard Democrat,” said he hopes Thompson, if elected, will focus on education.

“I’d like to see better schools, especially in the poorer neighborhoods,” Quach said. “I’d also like to see real estate taxes go down.”

Quach, who owns the King Discount store in Corona, said he appreciated what Koslowitz did for the area as a councilwoman and said he believes she will continue to help the area improve if elected to the position again.

Koslowitz said Forest Hills residents typically discuss quality-of-life issues with her when she is campaigning.

“People are concerned about the stores that are empty here, the rents and being able to cross Queens Boulevard,” Koslowitz said.

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

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