ASTORIA – Greek-American Evie Hantzopoulos is running for New York City Council in District 22 which includes Astoria, as well as Rikers Island, parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst.
Hantzopoulos made the announcement via Zoom on August 20 to her supporters and friends from the living room of her home. She posted on social media, “last night we held our virtual campaign launch party with a packed Zoom room.”
A community builder, advocate, and progressive leader who has dedicated her life to social justice, youth empowerment, and working towards a just, equitable and sustainable world, Hantzopoulos has been a resident of Astoria for the last 21 years. During COVID-19, she co-founded Queens Feeds Hospitals/Frontline Foods Queens and is part of the Astoria Mutual Aid Network’s Lead Organizing Team.
Born to Greek immigrants with grade-school educations, Hantzopoulos grew up in Peabody, MA. Her father worked in a leather factory upon arriving in the United States, but quit when he saw how underpaid he was versus American-born workers. He started his own cabinet-making business, and Evie’s mother took care of five children while working as a garment worker doing piecework at home and in a factory. Later in life Evie’s mom worked as a grocery bagger at Market Basket for nearly two decades, going on strike at age 80 to successfully oust the newly appointed CEO.
“We had the biggest family, the smallest house,” Hantzopoulos remembers, “and yet everyone always stayed with us.” Friends and family from Greece and Australia stayed at her family’s 2-bedroom/1-bathroom house while they got on their feet. “There was always room for people trying to find a better life, even if we had to sleep on the floor.”
Hantzopoulos was the first in her family to graduate high school, and attended Boston University on financial aid and merit scholarships. She moved to New York City in 1990 for graduate school at New York University, where she earned a master’s in educational theater.
Hantzopoulos’ work at PS 122 and PS 166 as a teaching artist first brought her to western Queens in the early 1990s. Drawn to Astoria’s Greek food and culture, diversity, proximity to Manhattan, affordable housing, and the feeling of the community, Hantzopoulos and her husband David moved to the district in 1999. “It felt like a place where people knew their neighbors, and I do know my neighbors,” she says more than two decades later.
Evie and David’s three daughters all attended public elementary and middle schools in Astoria, where Evie became a “serial PTA president.” She proudly served on PTA boards with parents at Les Enfants Montessori, PS 85, PS 122, the High School of Art & Design, and John Bowne High School.
Through the years, Hantzopoulos has organized with neighbors and young people around a range of issues affecting public health, education, food access, environmental sustainability, and more, resulting in her appointment to Community Board 1 in 2010. She now chairs the Housing Committee and serves on the Land Use Committee, where she has pushed for greater transparency, critical dialogue, and advocacy on affordable housing and zoning to benefit the public good, not private profiteers.
In her 24 years with Global Kids (GK), a non-profit whose mission is to educate, activate and inspire youth from underserved communities to take action on critical issues facing our world, Hantzopoulos and the GK staff have supported thousands of youth in New York City schools as they gain knowledge and skills in leadership, human rights, activism and civics. Many GK alums now are running for office, holding leadership positions in their professions, becoming activists, and helping to shape political policy.
Hantzopoulos says she is running to bring her experience, humanity, and energy to the New York City Council, where she will proudly represent and fight for everyone in District 22.
Through GK, she helped raise more than $300,000 for those in need during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She also organized Astoria Cooks for the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy.
"The heart of my personal work is based on the faith of the people. We need to focus on the marginalized, the immigrants, the middle class, the youth, the people of color. The key is to create a fair city," said Hantzopoulos.
She herself, who announced her candidacy amid a pandemic with the need to maintain social distancing, will base her campaign on the beliefs that have always motivated her: Need, equality, and inclusion.
As she said, commenting on the announcement of her candidacy through Zoom, "one thing I like about Zoom is that anyone can participate, wherever they are."
Her campaign focuses on high rents but also the small property owners facing giant corporations, the health system, education, and climate change.
More information is available online: https://www.electevie.com/.