Tony Avella

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Tony Avella
Tony Avella Official Headshot.jpg
Member of the New York Senate
from the 11th district
In office
January 1, 2011 – January 1, 2019
Preceded byFrank Padavan
Succeeded byJohn Liu
Member of the New York City Council from the 19th District
In office
January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2009
Preceded byMichael Abel
Succeeded byDan Halloran
ConstituencyQueens: Bayside, College Point, Auburndale, Beechhurst, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Robinwood; parts of Flushing, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks
Personal details
Born (1951-10-27) October 27, 1951 (age 67)[1]
Astoria, Queens[1]
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Judith Cashman
ResidenceWhitestone, New York, U.S.
Alma materHunter College
WebsiteOfficial website

Anthony Avella Jr. (born October 27, 1951)[1] is an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented the New York State Senate's 11th District in northeast Queens from 2011 to 2019. The district included the mostly affluent neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba and Auburndale. Avella also served as a member of the New York City Council from 2002 to 2009, representing some of the same Queens neighborhoods in District 19. Avella is a former member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of Democratic state senators who allied themselves with Senate Republicans.[2][3][4][5] He was also a candidate in the 2009 New York City mayoral election and the 2013 Queens Borough President election.

On September 13, 2018, Avella was defeated in the State Senate Democratic primary by former New York City Comptroller John Liu.[6][7][8] Avella continued his campaign on third-party lines[9][10] and was again defeated by Liu in the general election.[11][12]

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Avella earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hunter College of the City University of New York.[13][14] His public service career began as an aide to New York City Council member Peter Vallone, Sr. He served as an aide to Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, and as Special Assistant to late State Senator Leonard P. Stavisky and Chief to Staff to his widow, Toby Stavisky, who succeeded Leonard as a State Senator after his death.[13][15] Avella also served as a member of Queens Community Board 7 and a Democratic District Leader and joined several civic and recreational associations.[14]

A lifelong Queens resident, Avella resides in Whitestone with his wife, Judith Cashman.[16]

Political career[edit]

New York City Council[edit]

In 2001, Avella was first elected to the New York City Council in Queens' District 19. He was the first Democrat elected to his relatively conservative district.[13] Avella served as the Chair of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee and was a member of five other Council committees: Higher Education, Housing and Buildings, Fire and Criminal Justice Services, Land Use, and Veterans. He was the founder and Chair of the first Italian-American Caucus of the Council. He turned down a stipend and pay increase that came with his committee chairship, and was also the only City Council member to turn down his complementary parking placard. His colleagues often noted his aggressive, zealous demeanor. Avella was labeled both conservative and progressive for his varying views.[13]

In 2005, Avella forwarded a bill proposing that the Department of Transportation increase the operational duration of four public bus companies operating in his area. The bill would allow for the smooth integration of the private lines with the MTA, and was signed into law in May 2005.[17]

2009 campaign for Mayor of New York City[edit]

In 2009, the City Council passed legislation extending officeholder term limits from two terms to three at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's request, a decision Avella criticized.[18] He opted not to run for a third term, instead running for mayor of New York City.[13] He received publicity for his stances in favor of animal rights,[19] commercial rent control for small businesses and against overdevelopment and Mayor Bloomberg's rezonings. In the Democratic primary election, Avella was defeated by New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, coming in second place with 21% of the vote to Thompson's 71%;[20][21]

New York State Senate[edit]

In the 2010 elections, Avella ran for New York State Senate District 11, covering some of the same areas as his former City Council seat. On November 2, 2010, Avella defeated Frank Padavan, the 38-year Republican incumbent, winning 53-47%.[22][23] Avella, running on a campaign of independence and reform in Albany, received the endorsement of the powerful United Federation of Teachers, the first time it endorsed a challenger in lieu of an incumbent.[24]

The freshman senator was appointed ranking member of the Cities and Environmental Conservation Committees, and has at various points served on the Education, Aging, Banking, and Veterans, Homeland Security, Military Affairs Committees, Children and Families, Social Services, Cultural Affairs, Elections, Environmental Conservation, Finance, Housing, Transportation, and Libraries Select Committees, as well the Senate Task Force on the Delivery of Social Services to New York City. He was also a ranking member of the Aging Committee.[1][25]

In February 2014, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of senate Democrats that allied themselves with the Senate Republican Conference, creating a coalition that controlled the Senate. At the time, Democrats held a numerical majority in the Senate, but the IDC-Republican coalition prevented Democrats from holding power, while allowing Avella and other IDC members to gain committee chairships.[26] For joining the majority coalition, Avella could potentially gain committee leadership positions and associated stipends, though he said he would turn down stipends, which he also did during his tenure in the City Council.[3][13] Avella was soon named Chair of the Committee on Social Services[27][28] and in 2015 was named Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.[29]

In September 2014, former New York City Comptroller John Liu challenged Avella in the Democratic primary for State Senate District 11; Avella and Liu had previously served together in the City Council, representing neighboring districts, and the two had a strained relationship.[30] Avella ultimately won with 52% of the vote to Liu's 47%.[31][32][33] Liu criticized Avella for joining the IDC; Avella criticized Liu over the latter's campaign finance scandal that saw two of Liu's aides convicted, Liu's failure to pay fines from his earlier campaign for Comptroller, and Liu's record as Comptroller.[34][35][36] Liu was initially supported by the Working Families Party, by the Queens County Democratic Party and by several unions,[37] but these organizations largely dropped their support of Liu when Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, announced that its members would rejoin the Senate Democratic Conference after the 2014 elections.[38][39][40] After Republicans gained an outright majority in the State Senate in the 2014 elections, the IDC continued to caucus with the Republicans.[41][42]

In April 2018, Avella and his IDC colleagues rejoined the Senate Democratic Conference.[43][44] Subsequently, the Republican conference stripped Avella of his position as Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.[45][46][47]

Despite the dissolution of the IDC, Liu once again challenged Avella in the September 2018 Democratic primary election.[37] In a reversal of their 2014 race, Avella lost with 47% of the vote to Liu's 53%, attributed to long-simmering anger at the former members of the Independent Democratic Conference.[6][48][7][8] Unlike in 2014, the Queens County Democratic Party endorsed Avella instead of Liu. Avella appeared in the November 6, 2018 general election as the third-party candidate for the Independence Party of New York and the Women's Equality Party.[10] Avella announced in October 2018 that he would continue his campaign.[9] In the November 2018 general election, Avella came in third place with 21% of the vote, defeated again by Liu, who won 54% of the vote, and by Republican candidate Vickie Paladino, who won 24% of the vote, while finishing ahead of Conservative Party candidate Simon Minching, who won 1% of the vote.[11][12]

2013 campaign for Queens Borough President[edit]

On November 26, 2012, Avella announced he would enter the race for Queens Borough President.[49] On August 14, 2013, he dropped out of the race.[50]


  1. ^ a b c d "Legislative Preview: Meet The New Members". The Capitol. Manhattan Media. January 6, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ NYSenate (2017-01-09), New York State Senate Session - 01/04/17, retrieved 2018-01-11
  3. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse (May 9, 2017). "For Group of Breakaway Democrats in New York, It Pays to Be No. 2". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  4. ^ Kaplan, Thomas; Hakim, Danny (December 5, 2012). "Coalition Is to Control State Senate as Dissident Democrats Join With Republicans". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Senator Jesse Hamilton". 16 December 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b Noah Manskar (September 13, 2018). "NY Election Results: John Liu Ousts Tony Avella In Senate Primary". Patch. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "New York Primary Election Results". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "New York State Unofficial Election Night Results". New York State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on 20 November 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b Lewis, Rebecca C. "Tony Avella's longshot state Senate bid". City & State. City & State NY, LLC. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b Lewis, Rebecca C. (September 14, 2018). "Defeated ex-IDC members have yet to concede". City & State NY. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Brandy, Ryan. "Liu brings it home in state Senate race". Queens Chronicle. Queens Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b "New York Election Results". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f David W. Chen (2009-07-28). "Insurgent Candidate Fights Bloomberg". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  14. ^ a b "Candidate Statements". New York City Campaign Finance Board. New York City Campaign Finance Board. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Council Endorsements: Queens". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. ^ "New York City Council: District 19-Tony Avella". Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  17. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Extending Bus Franchise". Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  18. ^ "Bloomberg Wins Battle To Extend Term Limits Law". NBC New York. NBC Universal Media, LLC. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  19. ^ Richburg, Keith B. (2007-12-17). "Bill Could Halt New York Carriage Horses". Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  20. ^ "Primary Elections Results Page". NBC New York. NBC Universal Media, LLC. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Tony Avella, the Anti-Overdevelopment Candidate". Brownstoner. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  22. ^ "Election 2010". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  23. ^ Katz, Celeste (November 8, 2010). "State Sen. Frank Padavan Says Goodbye". Daily News. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  24. ^ Rhoades, Liz. "Padavan concedes; Avella talks strategy". Queens Chronicle. Queens Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  25. ^ Tony Avella. "About Tony Avella". Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  26. ^ "Avella's defection strengthens Senate coalition". Albany Times-Union. February 26, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  27. ^ "Queens Sen. Tony Avella Racks Up More Committee Slots After Jump To IDC". New York Daily News. March 5, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  28. ^ Ross Barkan (March 28, 2014). "Tony Avella Staffers Get Pay Bumps After He Defects From Dems". Observer. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  29. ^ Tony Avella (June 22, 2015). "Senator Avella Lands Coveted Children & Families Committee Chair". Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  30. ^ Fahim, Kareem. "A Reputation for His Outspokenness". The New York Times. The New York Times.
  31. ^ "New York Primary Election Results". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  32. ^ "State Sen. Avella beats Liu in Democratic primary", Associated Press, September 10, 2014; accessed November 4, 2014.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Katz, Celeste. "Tony Avella: John Liu sugarcoating his track record as NYC controller". Daily News. New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  35. ^ Velasquez, Josefa. "Liu, Avella debate turns contentious over I.D.C." Politico. Politico LLC. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  36. ^ Barkan, Ross. "John Liu Concedes to Tony Avella". Observer. Observer. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  37. ^ a b William Neuman (July 13, 2018). "John Liu Plots a Comeback Trail, Targeting a Renegade Democrat". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  38. ^ "Senate's Independent Democratic Conference announces end to alliance with Republicans - UPDATED". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  39. ^ King, David Howard. "2016 A Far Different Election Year for Independent Democrats". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  40. ^ Ross Barkan (July 18, 2014). "Steve Israel Endorses Tony Avella Over John Liu". Observer. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  41. ^ "Klein, diminished but still desired, sides with power". Capital New York. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  42. ^ "GOP takes full control of NY Senate, but retains 'coalition' with Valesky, IDC". The Post-Standard. Syracuse, New York. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  43. ^ Wang, Vivian (April 16, 2018). "As Session Resumes, a Democratic Truce in Albany Seems Uneasy". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  44. ^ Spector, Joseph (April 16, 2018). "After seven years, it's all over for the Senate Independent Democratic Conference". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  45. ^ Kirstan Conley (April 7, 2018). "Rebel state senators who rejoined Democrats stripped of committee chairs". The New York Post. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  46. ^ David Lombardo; Rachel Silberstein (April 6, 2018). "Ex-IDC senators stripped of committee posts". Albany Times-Union. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  47. ^ Reisman, Nick (April 6, 2018). "IDC Lawmakers Lose Committee Posts". New York State of Politics. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  48. ^ Vivian Wang (September 13, 2018). "Democratic Insurgents Topple 6 New York Senate Incumbents". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  49. ^ "Tony Avella Will Run For Queens Borough President". NY1. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  50. ^ "State Senator Tony Avella Drops Out Of Queens Borough President Race". NY1. Archived from the original on August 15, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Abel
New York City Council, 19th District
Succeeded by
Dan Halloran
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Frank Padavan
New York State Senate, 11th District
Succeeded by
John Liu