Photos courtesy of Councilman Paul Vallone's office
Council Member Paul Vallone and Speaker Corey Johnson celebrate Former Speaker Peter Vallone Senior’s 85th Birthday with a surprise party at City Hall prior to Tuesday’s Stated Meeting. Peter Vallone Sr. is the first and longest serving City Council Speaker.

The City Council threw an early birthday celebration for former Councilman and first and longest-serving City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Dozens of council members, staff, family and friends gathered after the Dec. 10 Stated Meeting for the 85-year-old’s surprise fête. Back in 2014, City Hall celebrated Vallone’s 80th birthday and honored him with a portrait in the Members Lounge.

“A very happy and blessed 85th birthday to my father, former New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.!” said Councilman Paul Vallone. “I’m incredibly grateful to Speaker Johnson and the Council Members and staff who helped my family celebrate this joyous occasion. It was a very special surprise my family and I will never forget!”

Vallone’s longstanding political career as New York City Councilman spanned nearly three decades from 1974 to 2001. He served as the council member for Districts 20 and 22 in Queens before becoming the majority leader and first-ever Speaker of the City Council.

Under Vallone’s leadership as Speaker, the city eliminated the city’s Board of Estimate, a government body formerly responsible for several areas of municipal policy and decisions.

In 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed the Board of Estimate unconstitutional based on the grounds that Brooklyn, the city’s most populous borough, had “no greater effective representation” than the city’s least-populous borough, Staten Island. Following that ruling, the city budget, land use and zoning came under under City Council purview.

Vallone teamed with former Mayor David Dinkins to propose the Safe Streets Safe City program, which allowed the city to impose a surcharge on the personal income tax in order to hire more police officers. In the early ’90s, the police force rose from 26,0000 to 41,000 officers, resulting in the lowest crime rates since the 1960s.

“As the longtime City Council Speaker, Peter Vallone Sr. made New Yorker greater and has been an inspiration to so many who followed him in that important role, including myself. He is a true public servant and it was my honor to co-host his 85th surprise birthday party at City Hall with his family, friends, former colleagues and all the Council Members and staff he influenced. Happy Birthday, Speaker!” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

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