Senator Michael Gianaris was elected to the State Senate in 2010 with over 81% of the vote after a decade of dedicated public service in the State Assembly. He is the first Greek-American to be elected to office from New York City and has served his community and state with unique effectiveness.
Since joining the Senate this year, Senator Gianaris’ has maintained his reputation as a leading reformer in the effort to combat dysfunction in state government, particularly the need for redistricting reform, which the New York Times has called “the real key to reform” in Albany. He led this effort by introducing legislation in 2006 creating an independent commission to redraw legislative and congressional district lines. His advocacy laid the foundation for other elected officials, including Governor Cuomo, to introduce their own bills supporting redistricting reform.
When State government was brought to a halt due to political gridlock in 2009, Senator Gianaris helped end the stalemate by proposing that it was within the Governor’s constitutional power to appoint a lieutenant governor in case of a vacancy. Senator Gianaris paved the way to end the logjam and refocus the Senate on working on behalf of New Yorkers.
Among his many triumphs in the Legislature, Senator Gianaris’ long-standing supporting of same-sex marriage was key to the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, which took place on June 24, 2011. Senator Gianaris has been a supporter of same-sex marriage throughout his time in both houses of the Legislature.
Senator Gianaris authored important public safety measures, including the state's first major anti-terror law after the September 11th attacks. His Energy Security Act, which has become a national model, strengthens security at New York’s power plants and transmission centers. Senator Gianaris has also been a staunch advocate for consumers, authoring the first-in-the-nation Airline Passenger Bill of Rights law which inspired federal rules that now ensure travelers are treated with respect and dignity while on commercial airplanes.
Senator Gianaris is also an advocate for enhanced environmental protections and the need to reshape New York's energy policy. He wrote the Clean Energy Law, which encouraged the private sector to utilize modern technologies in order to dramatically reduce pollution while increasing productivity. He also held Con Edison accountable for the serious, lengthy blackouts that took place throughout western Queens in 2006, which damaged local businesses and community members’ homes. Thanks to Senator Gianaris’ efforts, Con Ed was forced to pay restitution to all those hurt by the blackouts.
Senator Gianaris’ career in public service began as an aid to Congressman Thomas Manton, and he later became Governor Mario Cuomo’s Queens County Regional Representative. Until his election to the Assembly in 2000, he served as a Counsel to the Speaker of the Assembly. He also practiced law as a litigator in private practice for several years.
In his community, Senator Gianaris served as a member of Queens Community Planning Board No. 1, Legal Counsel to the United Community Civic Association and as a Board member of the Eastern Orthodox Lawyers Association.
Born in Astoria, Queens, Senator Gianaris is a graduate of the New York City public school system, having attended Public School 84, Junior High School 141 and Long Island City High School. He then attended Fordham University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Political Science and went on to receive his law degree from Harvard Law School.