Tony Avella

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Tony Avella
Member of the New York Senate
from the 11th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2011
Preceded by Frank Padavan
Member of the New York City Council from the 19th District
In office
January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2009
Preceded by Michael Abel
Succeeded by Dan Halloran
Constituency Queens: 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 64)[1]
Astoria, Queens[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Judith
Residence Whitestone, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Hunter College
Profession politician
Website Official website

Tony Avella (born October 27, 1951)[1] is an American politician and Democratic State Senator from the 11th New York Senate district. Avella was a member of the New York City Council from the borough of Queens from 2002 to 2009. He represented the 19th Council District, which includes the mostly affluent neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba and Auburndale.

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 opted not to run for a third term of the City Council (which was allowed by a bill passed in early 2009), in order to run in the 2009 Democratic primary for mayor of New York City. He received publicity for his stances in favor of animal rights[2] and against overdevelopment, but was defeated by Bill Thompson.[3]

He is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York. A lifelong Queens resident, he currently resides in Whitestone with his wife, Judith.[4]

On November 2, 2010, Avella defeated incumbent district 11 New York State Senator Frank Padavan.[5] On November 26. 2012, Avella announced he would enter the race for Queens Borough President.[6] On August 14, 2013, he dropped out of the race.[7]

Public service history[edit]

Avella's public service career began over 20 years ago 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 Chief of Staff to the late State Senator Leonard Stavisky and his widow, Toby Stavisky, later a State Senator herself.

In 1997, Avella was awarded New York State's Community Service Award from nominations received across New York State for his volunteer civic endeavors on behalf of New Yorkers. In 2005, he was honored by the Garibaldi Meucci Museum on Staten Island, received the 2005 Friend In High Places Award from the Historic Districts Council, the Community Mayor's 2005 Humanitarian Award and the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.[8]

Legislative concerns on the City Council[edit]

Avella's historic "Demolition by Neglect" bill was signed into law by the mayor in February 2005. This legislation enables the Landmarks Preservation Commission to prevent the destruction of New York City's landmarks by property owners. The legislation was supported by 46 preservation and civic groups, including the Landmarks Conservancy, the Historic Districts Council, and the National Historic Trust.[citation needed]

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.[9]

An attack occurred in 2007 in his district (Douglaston), on four Asian males by two white men (one with a pending criminal case on charges of assaulting an elderly man with a claw hammer), in which racial slurs were used by the white males. In a news conference Avella convened with religious and community leaders, he referred to the two perpetrators as "neanderthals". "I don't think I've ever used that word before," he said. "But it fits them." Avella blamed developers for increasing the tension in his district.[10]

On December 10, 2008, Avella received the “New York City Human Rights Award” for obtaining the third highest score of elected officials in New York City on the Human Rights Project’s report cards. The Human Rights Project is the lead organization of the New York City Human Rights Initiative, a city-wide human rights coalition with over 100 groups from the City. In 2009, Tony once again received the “New York City Human Rights Award,” this time for obtaining the highest score of elected officials in New York City on the Human Rights Project’s report cards.

New York State Senate[edit]

First elected to the State Senate in 2010, Avella, as a freshman senator, was appointed ranking member of the Cities and Environmental Conservation Committees, and has served on the Education, Aging, Banking, and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committees. As ranking member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, he led the fight in advocating for a ban on hydrofracking on the ground that it poses a risk to local water supplies. He introduced legislation that would create a new lottery scratch-off game whose proceeds would be strictly dedicated to a new Community Grant Fund to help struggling non-profits like senior centers, cultural groups, and little leagues survive. He additionally introduced legislation that would equalize co-op and condo property tax assessments with one-two and three family homes and help lower gas prices.

During his time in the state senate, Avella has co-sponsored over a hundred pieces of bipartisan legislation. He has supported a property tax cap and tax breaks for renters and homeowners in New York City. He is an advocate for animal rights, having introduced multiple bills in support of protecting animals, as well as sounded the alarm against animal rights violations. Avella's bill to expand religious incorporation rights to religions not officially recognized by New York had passed and was signed by the Governor into law. As a result of this major success, Hindu, Sikh and Islamic religions have been given the right to organize in New York.

Tony has been honored on numerous occasions for his work in the State Senate. He has been honored by multiple civic and community organizations, and has received the Geraldine Ferraro Legislative Achievement Award from the Italian American Labor Council, and the Distinguished Legislator Award, from the New York Conference of Italian American State Legislators. In recognition of his achievements, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano have each presented Tony with a citation. In recognition for his work with the Korean community, he was honored by the Chairman of the Gwangju City Council in the Republic of Korea.

He currently serves as the Chair of the Children and Families Committee, Vice Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, and is a member of the Banks, Cultural Affairs, Educations, Elections, Housing, Insurance, Judiciary, Transportation, NYC Education, Insurance, and Libraries Select Committees. He is also Chair of the Senate Task Force on the Delivery of Social Services to New York City, the first-ever task force of its kind.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Legislative Preview: Meet The New Members". The Capitol. Manhattan Media. January 6, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ Richburg, Keith B. (2007-12-17). "Bill Could Halt New York Carriage Horses". Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  3. ^ "Tony Avella, the Anti-Overdevelopment Candidate". Brownstoner. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  4. ^ "New York City Council: District 19-Tony Avella". Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  5. ^ Katz, Celeste (November 8, 2010). "State Sen. Frank Padavan Says Goodbye". Daily News. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Tony Avella Will Run For Queens Borough President". NY1. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "State Senator Tony Avella Drops Out Of Queens Borough President Race". NY1. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Councilman Tony Avella". NY City Council. Retrieved 2007-01-14. 
  9. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Extending Bus Franchise". Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  10. ^ Finn, Robin (2006-08-18). "PUBLIC LIVES; Whose Queens? A Councilman Reads the Signs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 

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