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SE Qns’ black leaders canvass swing states for Obama

As Election Day approaches, City Councilman James Sanders (D−Laurelton) said there is a big push within the southeast Queens community to get the vote out — not in the borough, but in hotly contested areas of the country.

The councilman and other leaders, such as U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D−Jamaica), have been making a strong effort to take constituents, mostly working class black and minorities, to states like Pennsylvania and Ohio to help campaign for presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D−Ill.).

Sanders said the voters in his area are already leaning heavily toward the Democrats, so he and other politicians decided to think outside their districts.

“We are organizing a key role in a historic turnout,” Sanders said. “We are not going to let this pass us by.”

The councilman, who has long supported Obama’s candidacy, was set to travel to Ohio this Wednesday for one last trip to help campaign for Obama. He said he will take a more down−to−earth approach to gather votes for his party.

“I want to go to an American who is far away from me. I want to be with someone who I’d never meet any other way,” he said.

Over the last couple of months, the councilman has taken bus trips to the key states. Sanders said he was impressed with not only the turnout of southeast Queens voters, but also their level of commitment to the initiative.

He and his group have done different types of voter initiative activities, from knocking on dozens of doors in small towns in South Carolina to talking on the street to people in Pennsylvania, according to the councilman.

“We’ve had some real heroes lead this battle in southeast Queens in battleground states,” he said.

During the Democratic primary, more than 52 percent of voters in the 6th Congressional District, which covers Jamaica, the Rockaways and St. Albans, voted for Obama over U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D−N.Y.), according to the city Elections Board.

Sanders said the showing reflected voters’ yearning for the change that the Illinois senator is pushing for and the excitement has continued all year.

“If you believe that we need a fundamental change, then you need to vote for that change agent: Barack Obama,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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