BY GABRIELLE C. SHERB
There are 43 women who make up the leadership of the New York State Assembly. One of these women is Aravella Simotas—not only representing Astoria, but serving in partnership with her fellow elected officials to ensure the best quality of life and opportunity for the residents of western Queens.
Assemblywoman Simotas, a lifelong resident of Astoria, represents the 36th District, which stretches all the way from 35th Avenue to La Guardia Airport. In 2010, she became the first Greek American to be elected in her district. Assemblywoman Simotas is proud of her history in Astoria. As the daughter of small business owners, she is committed to the maintenance of the quality of life for all residents, young and old.
She sees tremendous opportunity for Astoria as a place where families can grow and prosper. As a mother herself, Assemblywoman Simotas is invested in the quality of schools and the safety of children. She is one of the leading legislators who is opposed to adult establishments in the 36th District. In 2012, Simotas led the opposition to a bikini bar (which was to be known as Racks) opening on 19-26 Steinway St., which was next to a playground and middle school.
As she said in a 2012 interview with the NY Daily News, “We do not want an adult establishment in this area. We should be welcoming businesses that promote family values, not establishments that would damage the character of our neighborhood.” The establishment did not open, and since then she has continued to be a champion defending these issues for families and residents.
In addition to the young and new families that she hopes to protect, she is also committed to Astoria’s senior residents. Many of these residents, who came to Astoria in the 1970s, are now aging and are part of what makes the community feel like a large neighborhood. Simotas feels strongly that these residents need to have the services that will allow them to live well and be acknowledged for their dedication to the preservation of the communities. With all the changes that are happening in Astoria, it is critically important for Simotas that these important people are not forgotten.
“Ed Baber, the president of the Men’s Taminent Democratic Club, [associates] Astoria with an important acronym,” Simotas says. “A Small Town Of Really Important Americans.”
Simotas sits on many important committees of the New York State Assembly and chairs the Task Force on Women’s Issues. She is a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, and serves in the areas of consumer affairs, banking and more. She is especially proud of her role as part of the dynamic team that represents western Queens (including Michael Gianarias, Jose Peralta and Costa Constantinides), which works at all levels of government to ensure the executive office and Governor Cuomo are aware of the needs of its residents.
The state Assembly makes important decisions on how taxpayer money is spent and where the resources get allocated. With New York State making advances and facing new challenges, it is public servants like Aravella Simotas who are dedicated and committed to the long-term success of Astoria and western Queens.
“My favorite part of representing [the 36th District] is the people,” Simotas says. “At any given point if there is an issue I can invite a constituency and active group to Albany … any time I need someone to back me up, place one phone call, and have strong community represent.”
Assemblywoman Simotas is always here to answer your questions and make sure your voice is heard. You can reach her at her district office 718-545-3889, email her at [email protected] or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SimotasNY.