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SE Qns. group plans candidates’ forums

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson (l.) greets attendees at a reception for him in Laurelton, which was attended by southeast Queens politicos such as Jacqueline Boyce and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (both far r.). Photo courtesy Ray Cameron
TimesLedger Newspapers

A group from southeast Queens is hoping it can be a clearing house for the community in this year’s upcoming city elections.

The Southeast Queens Host Committee has scheduled receptions for a number of candidates for mayor, city public advocate and borough president and wants them to be opportunities for community members to tell the hopefuls what they want from city government.

“What we wanted to do was organize a group of professionals, teachers, PTAs and associations and bring attention to the candidates,” said Ray Cameron, the committee chairman. “We want each one to get an equal chance to present their plans.”

Although the fliers popping up in inboxes say the meetings are “in support of” the various candidates, Cameron said the group will not be making any endorsements in the races.

Cameron said he thought the first of the meetings — held Monday evening at attorney Jacques Leandre’s Laurelton office — went well and about 50 people showed up to ask questions about the flooding issue that has plagued southeast Queens, extending union contracts and expanding after-school Beacon programs in the area.

Thompson took southeast Queens in the 2009 general election for mayor with 72 percent of the vote.

The committee has scheduled meetings with Democratic mayoral candidates city Comptroller John Liu (May 20) and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (June 3), both at Leandre’s office, at 232-06 Merrick Blvd.

Cameron said he has reached out to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), but appeared to be taking his time when scheduling the race’s Republican candidates.

“We will be doing that, but of course we’re in a majority Democratic area,” he said. “People put in requests in the democratic way, and those were the names that came up first.”

A reception with public advocate candidate Democrat Reshma Saujani has been scheduled for June 25 at Leandre’s office. Saujani, the former deputy public advocate, is the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in tech education.

Cameron said he was also lining up candidates in the borough president’s race.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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