Paul Vallone, former Council Member from Queens political dynasty, dies at 56

Former Council Member Paul Vallone died Jan. 27 at the age of 56.
Photo by John McCarten : NYC Council

Paul Vallone, a former City Council Member who was part of a Queens political dynasty, died suddenly this weekend. He was 56 years old.

Vallone most recently served as the city’s Deputy Commissioner of Veterans’ Services. His brother Peter, a fellow former Council Member who presently serves as a judge in Claims Court, confirmed Paul’s passing.

Peter Vallone said his brother was rushed to Flushing Hospital Saturday evening after suddenly falling ill at home, but could not be saved. The news was first reported by the Queens Chronicle.

In addition to his brother, Vallone is survived by his wife Anna-Marie and three children, as well as his father Peter Sr., formerly the City Council speaker and a giant of municipal politics.

News of Paul Vallone’s death stunned Queens politicos and spurred an outpouring of grief.

“Paul didn’t just carry on his family’s immense legacy of service — he personified and embodied it,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said in a statement. “He inspired me every single day to be a better elected official, but it’s his lessons in friendship, family, and fatherhood that I will cherish for the rest of time. Queens is a better borough because of Paul, and I am a better person for having had the privilege of calling him a colleague and a friend.”

Before entering politics, Vallone was a managing partner at his family’s general practice law firm, Vallone & Vallone LLP, founded in 1932 by his grandfather, Judge Charles Vallone. His father, Peter Sr., was elected to the City Council in an Astoria-centered district in 1973, and became the first Speaker of the City Council following the reorganization of city government in 1989.

Vallone Sr. was term-limited out of the Council in 2001 and was succeeded as Astoria’s City Council representative by Peter Jr., who served two terms.

After running unsuccessfully in 2009, in 2013, Paul Vallone contested the Democratic primary in northeast Queens’ 19th District, which includes the neighborhoods College Point, Whitestone, Beechhurst, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Auburndale, Douglaston, Little Neck, and part of Flushing.

Paul Vallone and his father Peter at City Hall in 2019. Photo by John McCarten : NYC Council

The district at the time was represented by Republican Daniel Halloran, who during the 2013 campaign was arrested and charged in a broad federal corruption probe that also ensnared Queens Senator Malcolm Smith, Bronx Republican Chair Joseph Savino, and a slew of others.

Vallone narrowly won the Democratic primary and then prevailed in the 2013 general election. Per his City Council webpage, his mission from day one was to “put District 19 back on the map.” He won reelection in 2017, and at the end of his second term he told the Queens Chronicle he was proud to have added school seats to his district and helped launch a new free transit service for northeast Queens seniors. He also got underway efforts to build a new environmental center at Alley Pond Park and to renovate Bowne Park. He chaired the Economic Development Committee.

The moderate Democrat represented one of the most conservative districts in the city. At the end of his two terms, in 2021, the political pendulum had swung to the right and he was succeeded by Republican Vickie Paladino, an ardent Trump supporter and arguably the most right-wing member of the current City Council.

That same year, Vallone narrowly lost a race for Queens Civil Court to Republican Joseph Kasper, another sign of voters’ repudiation of the Democratic Party in northeastern Queens. The defeat meant a Vallone was not in elected office in the city for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Afterward, Vallone was appointed by Eric Adams to be the Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs at the Veterans’ Services Department under his new mayoral administration.

Members of New York’s political class expressed shock and dismay at Vallone’s untimely passing. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who reps southeast Queens, said she was “utterly heartbroken” by his death.

“Paul was a kind, beloved, and dedicated public servant who left an indelible mark on Queens and NYC,” said Speaker Adams. “My prayers are with his wife, children, and the entire Vallone family.”

Former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she “admired his collegiality and love for his community.”

“I could always count on his smile & good nature. It was infectious,” said Mark-Viverito. “A great partner in govt. Sending love & condolences to his family.”

Tom Suozzi, the former Congress Member running for his old seat in Long Island and eastern Queens, said he was devastated by the loss of Vallone, who had run a Suozzi campaign phonebank session for three hours just before his death.

“Paul is a great family man, a devoted father, husband, and public servant dedicated to the values he learned from his parents and family,” said Suozzi. “I am so sad to hear about his death.”