ASTORIA – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris attended several National Night Out celebrations throughout his western Queens district on August 6.
“National Night Out is a great opportunity to foster a sense of community with our neighbors, and no one does it better than Queens,” said Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris. “New York is a city of neighborhoods and I was glad to spend this evening with so many of the ones I have the privilege to represent.”
Sen. Gianaris was recently profiled in City & State New York for his efforts in Albany and for his constituents. The article noted, “The 49-year-old son of Greek immigrants, Gianaris has served for nearly two decades in the state Legislature,” adding that “Gianaris’ father was a professor of economics and statistics at Fordham University – where Gianaris received his undergraduate degree – and his mother was a homemaker.
“Energized by fellow Greek American Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential run, but immediately after graduating from Harvard Law School, he went into private practice with the firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP,” City & State New York reported.
“I worked there out of law school for six months, at a firm in New York which doesn’t exist anymore,” he told City & State, adding that “it was one of these behemoth New York firms, (and it) paid off my student loans.”
Gianaris worked for then-Gov. Mario Cuomo and left the firm in 1996, working as a lawyer for the Assembly before succeeding Assemblyman Denis Butler after Butler’s retirement in 2000. About leaving the private sector, Gianaris told City & State, “Best decision I ever made was making this choice, even though the pay cut was massive.”
The article also traced “the roots of Gianaris’ political drive…to where his family is from: Kalavryta, a small Greek mountain municipality on Peloponnesus and the site of a World War II massacre in which nearly all of the town’s male population was killed.”
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris met with community members at the National Night Out in Astoria. Photo: Sen. Michael Gianaris
“My family has always had a kind of political sensibility, just growing up, it would always be a subject of conversation,” Gianaris told City & State. “The suffering that they endured was always an intense part of our identity. My dad’s village was burned to the ground by the Nazis, and I would hear the stories about how he and his family – he had seven brothers and sisters – would literally sleep in the dirt because they didn’t have a home.”
“Gianaris’ maternal grandfather was the mayor of Ano Kleitoria, a village in Kalavryta,” City & State reported.
Of Amazon’s backing out of plans to build its second headquarters in Long Island City, Gianaris told City & State, “I would not have expected the biggest, baddest corporation in the U.S. to tuck tail and run, just because I got nominated to a board that I never actually sat on. But it does speak volumes about how they view the need for community engagement.”
Of the progressive agenda he and the Democratic majority are working on, he told City & State, “Spending years in the minority waiting for this moment, my foot is on the gas, trying to get as much of it done as possible.”
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris at the National Night Out in Astoria with members of Kiwanis International, the nonprofit service club. Photo: Sen. Michael Gianaris