GARDEN CITY, NY – The inauguration ceremony of Madeline Singas as District Attorney of Nassau County in the packed foyer of the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island on January 25 was a celebration of excellence and integrity in public service, the devotion of immigrant families to their children and their future, and the values of Hellenism that permeate the community’s families and the foundations of American democracy.
Among the heavy hitters in New York State politics who were present was Senator Chuck Schumer. He emphasized the fact that Singas “comes from a Greek background and her parents were immigrants.” The Senator was impressed that Singas and her sister were forbidden from working in the family business so that they could focus on their studies. That strategy took Madeline Singas to the tops of her classes at the Bronx High School of Science, Barnard College and Fordham Law School, and Effie Singas to medical school.
Schumer said the combination of that great Greek Hellenic background that created so much of what is great in America, and then her Jesuit studies at Fordham made her an intellectual powerhouse, but he also emphasized the values she absorbed being raised in a Greek immigrant home.
Before speaking about her parents, Singas said “I will try not to get emotional,” heeding her sister’s advice that she had to uphold her reputation as a hard-nosed prosecutor.
I know they are here watching …” she said of her father, Vassilios, who arrived in the United States speaking no English and eventually opened several Singas Famous Pizza stories with her mother Evgenia. Both were proud of the roots in Northern Epiros.
She then spoke briefly in Greek to express her love for her aunts and uncles in attendance “who come from the rugged landscape of Northern Greece” and villages that in their youth did not have running water or electricity,” – yet they realized the American dream and their sacrifices helped their children scale unimaginable heights.
The hundreds of guests who packed the Museum’s lobby did not miss the symbolism of the historic aircraft suspended from the ceiling which declared that the sky is the limit – both for talented and dedicated people like Singas, and for the children of immigrants represented by Singas and her sister Dr. Effie Singas, who offered moving remarks about their family.
Friends, family, and top New York State and Long Island officials endured post-blizzard traffic nightmares to attend the inauguration Singas, who showered her colleagues, supporters, and family with thanks for making it possible for her to stand before them all to take the oath office.
The oath was administered by Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, New York State’s top court, and the keynote address was delivered by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They sent the message Singas had the backing of the state’s top judicial and law enforcement officials as she moves to fulfil the promise to fight corruption that powerfully resonated with Nassau County voters.
“Nothing is more important than to take on public corruption in government…I will follow the law without fear or favor. I assure you that I will bring cases I need to bring to make sure our government is working for us,” she told them.
Singas and Schneiderman noted that to fight corruption officials must not merely prosecute crimes but send a message that the rules and laws apply to everyone equally and that the status quo and business as usual also undermine the public trust.
Drug abuse, which has reached tragic proportions among Long Island’s youth, is also her priority, both in terms of shutting down distributors and strengthening prevention and treatment programs, and she spotlighted the role of police in the fight as when she praised DA’s law enforcement partners.
“MOM, YOU DID AN AMAZING JOB”
Perhaps the most touching moments were the brief remarks made by Singas’ 13-year old twins. Jimmy noted that his teacher was right when he said at the start of the campaign “this will be one of the best learning experiences of your life.” He then turned and said “Mom, you did an amazing job. We’re proud of you and we love you.”
Demi echoed her brother’s teacher and touched hearts when she said “now I will read from a book my mom use to read us when I was little All the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.”
“Demi and Billy, I’m so proud of you,” Singas later declared, adding that they went through the campaign “With so much grace and maturity…I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”
There were so many to thank, Singas said, but she singled out former Queens DA now Judge Richard Brown, and especially her Nassau DA predecessor, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, who could not attend due to illness. To Nassau Democrat Party Chair Jay Jacobs she said “thank you for taking a chance on a neophyte and giving me the resources of the party…thank you for recognizing [that in the race for DA] experience did matter.”
The volunteers and professional campaign staff who laid the foundation the neophyte built upon came in for praise, as did her colleagues, whom she asked to raise their hands after telling them “I’m so proud of you. Every day all of you do the tough work. Your integrity and hard work make me look good.”
The ceremony’s Emcee was attorney and author Oscar Michelen and the invocation was offered by Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, representing Archbishop Demetrios of America, who was out of the country.
The VIPs included Nassau Country Executive Edward Mangano and Nassau Comptroller George Maragos.
Dr. Effie Singas also glowed from appreciation for their parents growing up in a supportive and nurturing family that included aunts, uncles and many cousins.
Singas, however, was her biggest supporter and best friend, she said, whom she admired for balancing professional success with being a devoted mother and wife. Effie Singas evoked loud applause when she cited her brother in law Theo Apostolou, whom she praised as “a true partner, who has supported and helped Madeline every step of the way.”
Schneiderman said he made sure to come because “this was not an ordinary race and Madeline is not an ordinary politician by any means…” and added that Singas will make “not just a great District Attorney but a state wide leader.” He told Singas “You give a huge boost to the statewide movement to reform our government.”
Among those Singas thanked were the labor unions “who stood with me from the beginning.”
When TNH pointed out the packed hall to her, she said “It’s a room full of supporters, friends, and family – I’m so touched by everyone’s expressions of love and support…It’s incredible.”
Singas’ husband Theo Apostolou said “This is the culmination of all our dreams. Madeline did a terrific job and she will be a great DA.” He told TNH he met Singas when she was already a promising prosecutor, but added neither ever dreamed elected office was in her future.
He cited Effie Singas’ observation that Singas is good at walking through the doors that are open to her, but a number of people noted, including Singas, that it was good that she was walking through them with him at her side, whom she called her campaign’s secret weapon.
Tom Kourkoumelis, who with his wife, Kathy, are longtime friends, and were among Singas’ first supporters, told TNH about the night “This is one of the most beautiful things I have experienced in my life. I believed in her ability from the start,” but emphasized her character. “She is also the kind of person you want to get to know when you meet her.”
Hellenic Lawyers Association President Michael Hartofilis, who attended with his wife, Maria, could not have been more delighted. “Madeline again made us all very proud. She is inspirational and she will be the best DA Nassau has ever seen. I am so proud to see her up there.” He agreed that she will inspire the many HLA scholarship recipients.