ASTORIA – On July 22, New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas conceded the Democratic Primary election to her opponent Zohran Mamdani in a post on Twitter. Simotas posted, “I congratulate @ZohranKMamdani for his win and a well-run election. I wish you the best as you begin your legislative career and fight for the 36th AD.”
A lifelong resident of Astoria, Assembly Member Simotas has represented the 36th District in Queens since 2011. Simotas was the first Greek-American woman elected to office in New York and the first woman to represent her district in the State Assembly.
Since she first took office, Simotas has been a steadfast advocate for gender equality and championed progressive policies to address the needs of working families in New York. During her time in the Assembly, she has passed legislation to combat sexual violence, protect the rights of workers, expand access to quality health care, and support small businesses. She currently serves as Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Women's Issues.
Dedicated to supporting and empowering survivors of sexual assault, Simotas has authored laws to mandate timely testing and preservation of rape kits, establish a Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights, require transparency from law enforcement, and extend the statute of limitations for rape to provide survivors with adequate time to process their trauma and pursue justice.
In 2019, Simotas passed a series of comprehensive reforms to strengthen protections against harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Simotas' landmark legislation eliminated the burdensome “severe or pervasive” standard for harassment claims, made it easier to hold negligent employers accountable, extended the time period to report harassment, expanded protections to cover all workplaces, and established crucial safeguards for employees who sign non-disclosure agreements. Simotas is a strong ally to organized labor and has supported efforts to bolster union membership, extend collective bargaining rights, and improve wages and working conditions.
As the daughter of small business owners who immigrated from Greece when she was an infant, Simotas grew up keenly aware of the challenges facing local businesses. She has passed several bills to provide small business owners with the support and guidance they need to navigate state regulations and avoid excessive fines. A product of the New York City public school system who attended P.S. 17, I.S. 126 and William C. Bryant High School, Simotas has fought to improve public education and secured millions of dollars in funding for schools in the community.
Simotas received her undergraduate degree in economics and philosophy, summa cum laude, from Fordham University in 1999. In 2002, she earned her juris doctorate from Fordham Law, where she served as managing editor of the Environmental Law Journal. After graduating from law school, Simotas served as a federal law clerk for Judge Nicholas Tsoucalas. Prior to her election to the Assembly, she worked as a litigator and was active in local government and community affairs as a member of Queens Community Board 1 and the United Community Civic Association.
Assembly Member Simotas and her husband, the Honorable John Katsanos, live in Astoria with their daughter Eleni Evangeline.