Queens Mourns Former Borough President Claire Shulman

Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A political pioneer who was the first woman to ascend to Queens Borough President died over the weekend.

Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman first took office as Queens Borough President in 1986, a position she held until she was term-limited out in 2002. Shulman was the first woman to hold the office, which has been held by women ever since. 

Her successor, former Queens Borough President and current Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that Shulman led the way for women leaders in the borough. 

“She was a trailblazer,” said Katz in a statement released Sunday evening. “I was honored to follow in her footsteps as Queens Borough President and owe her a great debt of gratitude for her amazing leadership and profound dedication to public service.”

Shulman succumbed to lung and pancreatic cancer and died at home surrounded by her children, amNewYork reported. She was 94 years old. 

Shulman encouraged her and other women to pursue leadership positions in the borough, said Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), and always gave them advice. 

“I spoke with Claire recently and the last thing she said to me was ‘I want to thank you for your excellent work in Washington and tell you how proud I am of you,’” said Meng. “There is no way to describe how much that meant to me. I am so proud and fortunate to have known her, and I will always hold on to those words,”

She loved Queens and the borough loved her back, said Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee about Shulman. 

“I will personally miss her counsel and steady voice of reason, especially this year.” Lee said in a statement released Sunday evening. “Unexpectedly thrust into the role of Borough President at a time of crisis and great uncertainty, Claire Shulman — an activist at heart and by nature — shepherded Queens for more than 16 years with grace, humility and an unrivaled determination to build a better borough for the families who call it home,” 

Details for a tribute honoring Shulman will be announced at a later date, Lee said.

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