Tony Avella

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Tony Avella
Tony Avella Official Headshot.jpg
Member of the New York Senate
from the 11th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2011
Preceded by Frank Padavan
Constituency Queens
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 66)[1]
Astoria, Queens[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Judith Cashman
Residence Whitestone, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Hunter College
Profession politician
Website Official website

Anthony Avella Jr. (born October 27, 1951)[1] is an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he represents the New York State Senate's 11th District in northeast Queens, which includes the mostly affluent neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba and Auburndale. Avella previously 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, whom he previously defeated in 2014.[6][7][8] Avella will still appear in the November 6, 2018 general election for his seat on the third-party Independence Party of New York and Reform Party of New York State ballot lines.[9][10][11]

Early life and education[edit]

He is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York.


Avella's public service career began over 20 years ago[when?] 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.

New York City Council[edit]

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.

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.[12]

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[13] and against overdevelopment, but was defeated by Bill Thompson.[14]

New York State Senate[edit]

On November 2, 2010, Avella defeated Frank Padavan, the 27-year Republican incumbent for New York State Senate District 11.[15]

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.

He previously served as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services, Committee on Children and Families and the Senate Task Force on the Delivery of Social Services to New York City, the first-ever task force of its kind. He is ranking member on the Aging Committee as well as member of the Children and Families, Cultural Affairs, Education, Elections, Environmental Conservation, Finance, Housing, Transportation, and Libraries Select Committees.[1][16]

On November 26, 2012, Avella announced he would enter the race for Queens Borough President.[17] On August 14, 2013, he dropped out of the race.[18]

Independent Democratic Conference[edit]

In February 2014, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democratic senators who allied themselves with the Senate Republican Conference that controls the chamber.[19] For joining the majority coalition, Avella could potentially gain committee leadership positions and associated stipends, though he said he would turn down stipends. Avella was soon named Chair of the Committee on Social Services[20][21] and in 2015 was named Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.[22] As promised, Avella turned down stipends he was entitled to as a committee chairman, citing ethical concerns.[3]

In September 2014, John Liu challenged Avella in the Democratic primary for State Senate District 11; Avella ultimately won by by 800 votes.[23][24] Liu criticized Avella for joining the IDC. Liu was initially supported by the Working Families Party, by the Queens County Democratic Party and by several unions,[25] 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.[26][27][28] After Republicans gained an outright majority in the State Senate in the 2014 elections, the IDC continued to caucus with the Republicans.[29][30]

In April 2018, Avella and his IDC colleagues rejoined the Senate Democratic Conference.[31][32] Subsequently, the Republican conference stripped Avella of his position as Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.[33][34][35]

Despite the dissolution of the IDC, Liu once again challenged Avella in the September 2018 Democratic primary election.[25] This time, Avella lost by 1,300 votes, attributed to long-simmering anger at the former members of the Independent Democratic Conference.[36][37][38][39] Unlike in 2014, the Queens County Democratic Party endorsed Avella instead of Liu. As part of New York State's electoral fusion laws allowing candidates to run on multiple ballot lines in one election, Avella will still appear in the November 6, 2018 general election as the third-party candidate for the Independence Party of New York and the Reform Party of New York State.[9][10][11]

Personal life[edit]

A lifelong Queens resident, Avella resides in Whitestone with his wife, Judith Cashman.[40]


  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. ^ Noah Manskar (September 13, 2018). "NY Election Results: John Liu Ousts Tony Avella In Senate Primary". Patch. Retrieved September 13, 2018. 
  7. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah. "New York Primary Election Results". Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  8. ^ "New York State Unofficial Election Night Results". New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  9. ^ a b Susan Arbetter [@sarbetter] (September 14, 2018). "Here's a corrected rundown of the party lines that former IDCers' who lost their Democratic primaries are still on: Klein: Ind Valesky: Ind; WEP Peralta: Ind; Reform; WEP Hamilton: Ind; WEP Alcantara: Ind Avella: Ind; WEP" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  10. ^ a b Mahoney, Bill (September 17, 2018). "Life after defeat? Questions remain about plans for Democratic primary losers". Politico. Retrieved September 18, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b Lewis, Rebecca C. (September 14, 2018). "Defeated ex-IDC members have yet to concede". City & State NY. Retrieved September 18, 2018. 
  12. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Extending Bus Franchise". Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  13. ^ Richburg, Keith B. (2007-12-17). "Bill Could Halt New York Carriage Horses". Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  14. ^ "Tony Avella, the Anti-Overdevelopment Candidate". Brownstoner. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Tony Avella. "About Tony Avella". Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  17. ^ "Tony Avella Will Run For Queens Borough President". NY1. Retrieved November 27, 2012. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "State Senator Tony Avella Drops Out Of Queens Borough President Race". NY1. Retrieved August 15, 2013. [permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Avella's defection strengthens Senate coalition". Albany Times-Union. February 26, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Queens Sen. Tony Avella Racks Up More Committee Slots After Jump To IDC". New York Daily News. March 5, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  21. ^ Ross Barkan (March 28, 2014). "Tony Avella Staffers Get Pay Bumps After He Defects From Dems". Observer. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  22. ^ Tony Avella (June 22, 2015). "Senator Avella Lands Coveted Children & Families Committee Chair". Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  23. ^ "State Sen. Avella beats Liu in Democratic primary", Associated Press, September 10, 2014; accessed November 4, 2014.
  24. ^
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ "Senate's Independent Democratic Conference announces end to alliance with Republicans - UPDATED". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  27. ^ King, David Howard. "2016 A Far Different Election Year for Independent Democrats". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  28. ^ Ross Barkan (July 18, 2014). "Steve Israel Endorses Tony Avella Over John Liu". Observer. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Klein, diminished but still desired, sides with power". Capital New York. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  30. ^ "GOP takes full control of NY Senate, but retains 'coalition' with Valesky, IDC". The Post-Standard. Syracuse, New York. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  31. ^ Wang, Vivian (April 16, 2018). "As Session Resumes, a Democratic Truce in Albany Seems Uneasy". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2018. 
  32. ^ Spector, Joseph (April 16, 2018). "After seven years, it's all over for the Senate Independent Democratic Conference". Retrieved April 18, 2018. 
  33. ^ Kirstan Conley (April 7, 2018). "Rebel state senators who rejoined Democrats stripped of committee chairs". The New York Post. Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  34. ^ David Lombardo; Rachel Silberstein (April 6, 2018). "Ex-IDC senators stripped of committee posts". Albany Times-Union. Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  35. ^ Reisman, Nick (April 6, 2018). "IDC Lawmakers Lose Committee Posts". New York State of Politics. Retrieved September 22, 2018. 
  36. ^ Noah Manskar (September 13, 2018). "NY Election Results: John Liu Ousts Tony Avella In Senate Primary". Patch. Retrieved September 13, 2018. 
  37. ^ Vivian Wang (September 13, 2018). "Democratic Insurgents Topple 6 New York Senate Incumbents". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  38. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah. "New York Primary Election Results". Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  39. ^ "New York State Unofficial Election Night Results". New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  40. ^ "New York City Council: District 19-Tony Avella". Retrieved 2009-09-05. 

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