Constantinides Makes Run For City Council Seat
There are 350,000 Greek-Americans in New York City, said a spokesman at last week’s fundraiser for Costas Constantinides, yet they have no representative in the City Council, not even one from their stronghold, Astoria. Speaking at the Pan-Cyprian Sports Lounge, 23-15 31st St., Philip Christopher said that with a mandatory limit on Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s time in office, and thus with an open election due, the Greek-American opportunity presents itself—and Constantinides, of the Democratic Lawyers Council, is the man to rise to it.
“It’s time for us as a Greek community to elect one of our own,” Christopher said, adding that whoever wins the Democratic primary for the city council seat will win the election. He wants the primary winner to be the right one, a Greek-American, particularly one named Costas Constantinides. If that turns out to be the case, and assuming the accuracy of Christopher’s observation, this Greek-American will be preordained for the general election.
All this refers to an election that’s happening next year. Antonio Meloni, who heads such community groups as Immigration Advocacy Agency Services and the New York Anti-Crime Agency, is already in the race, so it’s none too soon for Constantinides to declare his intention, even 15 months in advance of the September 2013 primary that’s expected to determine Vallone’s successor. Christopher emphasized that 2012 is the time for raising money that will allow the candidate and his associates to conduct a long campaign in 2013.
“Small checks matter in this election,” he said, stressing that many such small amounts are the basis of the candidate’s treasury.
Though the city council may not be familiar with Greek-American members yet, the last two state assemblymembers from Astoria and environs have been Greek-American. Both were present at Constantinides’ fundraiser. Gianaris was in the Assembly from 2001 to 2011, and when he ran for the senate in 2010, Aravella Simotas succeeded him. Simotas, who is more than eight months pregnant and was introduced by Christopher as “big mama”, said she and Constantinides were childhood neighbors and went to William Cullen Bryant H.S., which was recently closed and renamed before reopening, though only over the objections of many students, teachers and alumni, she and Constantinides being among the latter. She called the battle to keep Bryant open, and with its name intact, “a noble cause”. She appreciated his participation and said of him, “Politics has been in his blood a long time.”
Gianaris commented that it was strategic of the new candidate to choose the Pan- Cyprian Sports Lounge as the starting point of his run for the city council. Another speaker said Constantinides wanted to find out all he could about Cyprus, his ancestral home but a place from which his father was brought in 1952. Constantinides said his father, only seven years old when he arrived in America, grew up with a desire for assimilation and didn’t dwell on the strife in his native island in the Aegean. To hear about that, Constantinides had to learn from his grandmother, a passionate Cyprian patriot. Some of the evening was given over to the current crises in Greece and Cyprus, with Christopher reminding the gathering that in Cyprus, the 38th anniversary of the Turkish invasion is near.
Constantinides kept matters confined to the 24th city council district, where in the long haul he expects a couple of others to join Meloni and him as candidates.
“I understand what I have to do,” he said at the fundraiser. “With your support, how can I fail?”