Distinguished Service Career Draws To A Close
As the bells ring out the old year on Dec. 31, 2010, a distinguished career in public service will come to an end as well. After more than a quarter-century serving the people of the 12th state Senate District, the County of Queens, New York City and all New York state, George Onorato will retire.
Onorato came to the upper house of the state legislature already well schooled in public service. For 15 years prior to his election to the senate, he served in the elected position of secretary/treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, Local 41. His experience in construction continued in his service to the public: on several occasions he inspected school construction projects and in at least one instance, found the answer to a school roof that continued to leak, even after several repair crews had worked on it–the original contractor had neglected to install flashing, a type of moisture barrier, before putting on the new roof.
His intimate knowledge of the lives and concerns of working men and women in New York state was a major factor in his becoming chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Labor. His long history of advocacy for New York’s working families, consumers, senior citizens, veterans and young people began during his first year in the senate, when he was a prime cosponsor of the Used Car Lemon Law, ensuring that consumers will not be saddled with defective automobiles. Since then, he has sponsored or cosponsored many laws, including measures to better monitor toxic substance record keeping in the workplace, provide sign language interpreters for hearing-impaired crime victims, improve enforcement of family court orders of support and provide incentives for power plants to reduce emissions. He has also championed legislation to combat child abuse, provide improved insurance coverage for maternity and breast cancer patients, and advance prostate cancer research, education and detection efforts.
An advocate for groups at both ends of the age spectrum, Onorato has been a strong supporter of New York’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC program for low- and middle income seniors), and measures designed to curb the spiraling costs of prescription drugs. As well, he has always maintained a strong commitment to ensuring equitable school funding for New York City and other underserved school districts around the state, and has sponsored a year-round “Read to Learn, Learn to Live!” program to encourage young people to read more frequently. Onorato has sponsored legislation that has had an impact on almost every aspect of daily life in the city and state of New York and his home borough of Queens.
Onorato joined the Taminent Regular Democratic Club in 1950 and has served as chairman of its Board of Directors since 1972. He served in the United States Army 118th Medical battalion from 1950 to 1952 and received a Presidential Citation. A graduate of Long Island City H. S., Onorato is married to the former Athena Georgakakos. His three adult children, Joanne, George and Janice, have provided him with six grandchildren and one greatgrandson.
Merely recapping his life and career does not in any way provide a true picture of the many interests and aptitudes of this complex and many-talented husband, father and champion of the people of his district, and the entire state of New York. Suffice it to say that George Onorato caps a long and distinguished public service career with a well-earned and heartily deserved retirement, although we are happy to note that he will remain as Democratic District Leader. We extend him all good wishes as he celebrates his birthday on Friday, November 5, and hope that he will see many more such birthdays. He will never truly retire from public life.