2010-02-03 / Political Page

Taminent Picks Astoria Woman To Be Assembly Candidate

Adding an historic flourish to an important political happening, the powerful Taminent Regular Democratic Club has chosen a Greek-American woman as its candidate for the 36th District Assembly seat covering Astoria and Long Island City.

Aravella Simotas was endorsed by Taminent to run for the 36th AD seat after incumbent Assemblymember Michael Gianaris announced he would run for the 12th state senate district seat which became available following the announcement by Senator George Onorato that he is retiring at the end of the current year.

If elected, Simotas would be the first Greek American woman elected to the Assembly, and possibly the first elected to a federal, state or city legislative office in New York state.

Similarly, Gianaris had been the first Greek-American male elected to the Assembly when he took office in 2000.

Simotas, 31 has been a member of the Taminent club for more than 10 years, she said in an interview. She joined while still attending Fordham University. She later graduated from Fordham Law School. She presently is employed at a Manhattan law firm. Her husband, John Katsanos, is also an attorney. They have no children.

Simotas has also been active during the past decade as a member of Community Board 1, which covers Astoria, and of the United Community and Civic Association (UCCA), one of the most active and effective community groups in Western Queens.

In her early years as a political activist, Simotas worked as a district representative for former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and for incumbent Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. describe the legislative agenda she would pursue if elected, Simotas stated she would continue Gianaris’ efforts “to check the proliferation of power plants in our area and make sure power plants comply with the strict standards now in place”.

Gianaris sponsored a law which called for new plants to produce cleaner electrical power and for existing ones to be refitted to achieve the same goal.

Simotas also said she would “work to get all children the education they deserve”, and to create jobs to improve the economy. Another one of her goals, she said, would be “to get an expanded hospital for our community”.

Simotas said she came to Astoria with her parents at a very early age and attended P.S. 17, I.S. 126 and then graduated from William C. Bryant H.S. in 1995 before enrolling at Fordham in The Bronx. She and her husband have been married for five years.

Onorato, who doubles as the Astoria Democratic district leader teaming with co-leader Gloria Aloise, said, “There was strong support for Ms. Simotas to be our Assembly candidate because of her active participation in our community over a long period of years. Our club and organization will support her campaign in every way possible.”

VALLONE’S JUDGMENT VINDICATED: City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) was among the first to oppose holding the trials of the terrorist responsible for 9/11 in New York City. Now that it appears the trials will be held elsewhere, Vallone, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, stated: “Every New York elected official who supported the poor decision to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan should have, at a minimum, ensured that the federal government paid for it.

“It was clear from the start the cost of protecting our citizens from the increased risks would be exorbitant. Now, our senators should stand with our mayor in supporting a different location.”

PROMISING START FOR TABONE: Former Astoria Republican leader Vince Tabone, now running for the 26th Assembly District seat in Bayside where he now resides, reports he’s off to a good campaign fundraising start.

Tabone, who’s challenging veteran Democratic incumbent Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza, says he has reached $30,000 in contributions, “well ahead of potential opponents” for the seat.

Tabone, who has been endorsed by the Queens county GOP and state Senator Frank Padavan, has also been endorsed by the Correction Captains Association.

“As the son of a retired law enforcement official, I am deeply honored to have the confidence and support of NYC’s Correction Captains, who truly stand on the front lines providing leadership in protecting our society while working in the most adverse of conditions day in and day out,” Tabone declared.

As for the fundraising, Tabone said he achieved it without holding an official fundraising event.

“This level of support demonstrates the strong desire for change in Albany and for restoring real, responsible and accountable Albany representation for Northeast Queens,” Tabone stated.

Much of Tabone’s campaign thus far has been based on his opponent allegedly residing outside the district and her frequent votes for tax increases.

Tabone, the vice chairman of the Queens GOP, is running on a platform of bringing fiscal sanity back to Albany, revitalizing the economy, improving city schools and protecting quality of life.

His campaign manager, retired NYPD Officer Anthony Carollo, believes Tabone “will be a strong voice for New York’s law enforcement community and will always be on the right side of public safety issues.”

ASSEMBLY CANDIDATE WEPRIN ENDORSED: With six days to go for the 24th AD special election next Tuesday, Democratic candidate David Weprin picked up a helpful endorsement from District Council 37, with 125,000 members, the largest municipal union in the city.

Weprin faces community activist Robert Friedrich, a Democrat running on the Republican and Conservative Party lines.

Weprin has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party and the Independence Party. With the three-party support, he should have no problem getting his voters out to the polls, but just in case he needs more help, DC 37 does a great job in this respect.

Weprin, who is seeking to replace his brother, Mark, as 24th Assembly District representative also picked up an endorsement from the North Queens United Group, made up of business owners and professionals who live and/or work in Northeast Queens.

The 24th Assembly District includes Bellerose, Floral Park, Oakland Gardens, Glen Oaks and Hollis Hills.

CROWLEY COMMENT ON OBAMA SPEECH: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) praised President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address, for “laying out an agenda that puts middle class families first by creating jobs, providing tax cuts for the middle class and making much needed reforms to our immigration, education and healthcare systems.”

Crowley declared, “I am committed to helping the president do what is necessary to keep America the smartest, most productive and prosperous nation in the world.”

Last Thursday, Crowley visited the Sunnyside Community Services Senior Center in Sunnyside to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the nation’s Social Security system. The first Social Security check was mailed out on January 31, 1940.

GENNARO SLAMS GAS DRILLING: Appearing in an environmental documentary screened at the Sundance Film Festival for the second time in three years, City Councilmember James Gennaro called on New York state leaders to ban natural gas drilling within the New York City reservoir watershed in the Catskills upstate.

Recently, Governor David Paterson extended the period for public comments on the controversial project. The gas industry is seeking authorization to do extensive drilling for natural gas in the New York City watershed area. The process they will use, known as hydraulic fracturing, poses unacceptable risks to drinking water sources, Gennaro said.

The lawmaker, a national leader in the movement to reform hydraulic fracturing and to impose tough federal regulations concerning it, in the documentary film, titled “Gasland”, calls upon New York state to ban the controversial drilling practice in the Catskills watershed area.

Gennaro, chairman of the council Environmental Protection Committee and a leading environmentalist, argues on the film, and elsewhere, that the gas drilling could both contaminate the city’s drinking water and cost city taxpayers billions of dollars in filtration costs.

Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) says the “Gasland” film “has a critically important message that people need to hear “throughout the U.S. because the dangerous drilling is going on throughout the nation and threatens drinking water supplies everywhere.

“‘Gasland’ puts this national issue into sharp focus and sears it into the public’s mind,” Gennaro said. “This will lead, I predict, to the reforms and regulations needed to protect us from environmental catastrophe. I just hope we’re not too late.”

At the 2008 Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah annually, Gennaro was featured in a film called “Fuel”, a documentary about the need to create renewable energy solutions. “Fuel” won that year’s award for best documentary.

HALLORAN OPENS DISTRICT OFFICE: Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–Bayside) opened his 19th district office located at 166-08 24th Rd., Whitestone, which he said would be modeled after state Senator Frank Padavan’s district offices. Padavan was present for the occasion.

Halloran, elected in the Republican sweep last November which put three GOP-ers from Queens in the council, said Padavan was known for providing sterling constituent services throughout his more than 30 years in office. Halloran’s office can be reached by calling 718-631-6703. The district includes Bayside, Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and parts of Flushing, Whitestone and Little Neck.

ADDABBO’S SATURDAY LIBRARY SCHEDULE: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach/Ozone Park) will hold office hours on Saturdays in selected libraries in his district, beginning this Saturday at the Glendale branch, 78-60 73rd Pl., off Myrtle Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; phone 718-821-4980. For more information about Addabbo’s Saturday visits to other libraries or about the opening of a new district office, call his Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111.

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