ASTORIA – New York State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas was very happy to introduce a man who needs no introduction in Astoria, State Senator Michael Gianaris. The occasion was a fundraiser for his re-election campaign at Tratoria L’Incontro restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard.
Gianaris is the second highest Democrat in the Senate, and as chair of the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee he is working hard to gain a Democrat majority. He will then be in a position to do even more for his constituents and the community, “but I have to make sure I am re-elected,” he said with a smile.
Simotas Told TNH “He’s not only a fierce advocate for the working class and very committed to his Orthodox and Hellenic Roots, he is also a wonderful friend, and someone who fights with you and follows through.”
And he is committed to opening doors for fellow Greek-Americans to get into public office “He pushed me to run for his Assembly seat when he was elected to the Senate. He has inspired many people to support Greek-American and get them into places where they can have a say,” Simotas said.
Simotas declared to the crowd “we will see a lot more great things from him,” but Gianaris shifted into modesty and humorous mode when he thanked the friends who filled the room “and come out year after year, but I know it’s really because of the restaurant. I hope you are enjoying you dinners.”
Gianaris then warmly thanked the guests, his staff “who work hard, day in and day out,” his parents, Magdalene and Prof. Nicholas Gianaris, and his brother Bill. “He doubles as the treasurer of my committee so he thanks you for all the checks.”
He summarized his team’s achievements, such as cleaner air in Astoria. Citing the enormous growth in nearby Long Island City and Astoria, Gianaris said he also works with developers “to make sure the buildings go up responsibly” and with adequate infrastructure and making sure that as the community prospers longtime resident can still afford to live there.
He closed his remarks saying “we have done a lot; we have a lot more to do.”
When Simotas introduced Constantinides of Astoria as the first Greek and Cypriot elected to the City Council, he declared, “I can’t say enough good things about Mike Gianaris.”
Retired City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone Sr. told TNH “Mike has been my protege. I have been with him his whole political life. I love him and I only hope that he could run the Senate. He would be terrific for the state. He is a good guy, very intelligent – a Harvard graduate, but I taught him everything he knows.”
Asked when she began to feel that her son was going to make an impact in politics, Gianaris’ mother said it was when he became active with Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign when he was 17. “He helped register 10,000 voters. That’s when politics entered his blood” – although she noted one of Mike’s grandparents was elected mayor of his village near Kalavrita.