NEW YORK – Madeline Singas felt a great sense of responsibility when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her acting Nassau County District Attorney earlier this year. When she officially received the Nassau County Democratic Committee’s nomination to run for a full term this week, she deemed it a great honor, but for the Greek-American community, it is a challenge.
A group called Greek Americans for Nassau County were among the first to answer the call to arms with a fundraiser at Kopiaste restaurant on May 28, the place where those successful Astoria campaigns were launched, and which has hosted many elected officials considered to be friends of Hellenism, including Vice President Joe Biden.
While Greek- and Cypriot-Americans are thriving at the tops of every profession, except in Astoria, they lag in public affairs, which undermine the community’s ability to generate support for its issues, according to a number of speakers at the event.
Philip Christopher, the founder and president the Pancyprian Association of America and of PSEKA, was listed on the invitation as the event’s Grand Cohost along with Nikos Mouyiaris.
Christopher set the tone for the gathering when he said that while District attorneys are not politicians per se, “any Greek-American we can put in office makes a big difference,” but he also spotlighted Singas’ reputation for integrity and excellence.
Before she was certain who her opponent would be, Singas cited her record and experience with pride, but some might have thought the newcomer to politics was too humble for her own good.
Now that she knows her Republican opponent will be Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, whom she called a professional politician, the humility is still there – an integral part of the character her immigrant parents instilled in Singas and her sister, physician Effie Singas – but it is supplemented by the fire they also stoked when they told them that in America, with hard work they could do anything.
Singas comes out swinging not only because she knows that’s what it will take to win, but because she needs to protect the excellence and integrity of the office.
“The District Attorney needs to be a prosecutor, not a politician,” she said in a message to voters. “My opponent has never prosecuted a single criminal case. She has never practiced criminal law. She has never walked into a courtroom and put murderers, rapists, and drug dealers behind bars. Nassau’s top law enforcement job shouldn’t be where beginners go to learn.”
Christopher, serving as Emcee, acknowledged the leaders of supporting organizations, such as Nikos Nicolaou and Despina Axiotakis of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He also introducing the speakers, who included Theana Iordanou, Peter Louca, Nikos Yiannas, and Dr. William Tenet, who said “I will do everything I can to help you win…I know you will succeed.”
New York State Senator Michael Gianaris was the first speak. He came down from Albany to support Singas, whom he knew before working in the Nassau DA’s office. While they both grew up in Astoria, “she was one of those young people I worked with on the campaign of Michael Dukakis,” whom he said left a legacy of inspiring young Greek-Americans to run for office.
Gianaris emphasized that Singas “is already doing the job…you can’t open a newspaper, especially Newsday, without seeing what a great job she is doing.”
He concluded with an exhortation that was repeated thought the night: “We must support her and help her deliver her message.”
Campaign donations are one way, but volunteers are also needed for the campaign, and both kinds of aid can come from outside Nassau County.