Tony Avella has dedicated his life to fighting for middle-class families. Tony’s distinguished public service career began over 20 years ago as an aide to New York City Council Member Peter Vallone, Sr. Tony later served as an aide to Mayors Koch and Dinkins and as Chief of Staff to the late State Senator Leonard Stavisky and to State Senator Toby Stavisky.
First elected to the State Senate in 2010, Tony, as a freshman senator, was appointed ranking member of the Cities and Environmental Conservation Committees, and also serves on the Education, Aging, Banking, and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committees. Keeping his promise to bring reform to Albany, Tony has twice rejected the “lulu” he is entitled to as ranking member of two committees.
Tony has spent his first few years in Albany fighting for the people that elected him. He is proud to have been a part of two on-time budgets and bringing long needed ethics reform to Albany. As ranking member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, he is leading the fight to ban hydrofracking, an extremely dangerous drilling practice that poses a risk to our water supply, in this State. Tony has introduced legislation that would create a new lottery scratch off game whose proceeds would be strictly dedicated to a new Community Grant Fund that would help struggling non-profits like senior centers, cultural groups, and little leagues survive. He has also introduced legislation that would equalize co-op and condo property tax assessments with one-two and three family homes and help lower costs at the gas pump. Tony is never afraid to cross the aisle to help the citizens of this state, and has co-sponsored over a hundred pieces of bi-partisan legislation.
Tony has been honored on several occasions for his work in the State Senate. The New York City Retired Transit Police Officers’ Association honored Tony in recognition and appreciation of his dedication and continued support of the men and women of law enforcement. Tony received the Geraldine Ferrara Legislative Achievement Award from the Italian American Labor Council in recognition of his drive, dedication and commitment to the people which he serves. In recognition of this achievement, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano each presented Tony with a citation. The Korean Senior Citizen Voters Federation of New York also honored Tony with a plaque in grateful appreciation for his contributions to the Korean Community.
Re-elected by an overwhelming majority in 2012, Tony will build upon the accomplishments of the past few years and continue serving the people of the 11th Senatorial District.
Prior to seeking public office, Tony served in numerous volunteer capacities as a civic activist and was a member of Queens Community Board #7. In 1997, Tony was awarded New York State’s Community Service Award for his numerous volunteer and civic endeavors on behalf of all New Yorkers.
In 2001, Tony won election to the New York City Council in the 19th District - Northeast Queens and was reelected with an overwhelming majority in both the 2003 and 2005 elections. Respecting the will of the voters who twice passed term limits, Tony refused to run for a third Council term in 2009, even though political observers agree he could have easily won re-election. So Tony took his message of change and reform city-wide, running for New York City Mayor. An underdog in the race, Tony ran on his populist reputation as New York City’s fiercest reform politician. Tony received rave reviews for his performances during the Mayoral debates and routinely challenged the status quo.
As a member of the City Council, Tony served as Chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and was a member of five Council committees: Higher Education, Housing and Buildings, Fire and Criminal Justice Services, Land Use, and Veterans. Tony was also the founder and Chair of the first Italian-American Caucus of the City Council. As Chair of the Italian-American Caucus, Tony promoted Italian culture and heritage through an annual celebration at City Hall in October during Italian American Heritage Month and fought against negative stereotyping of Italian Americans.
As a member of the City Council, Tony authored several important pieces of legislation. Signed into law in 2005, his “Demolition by Neglect” bill enabled the Landmarks Preservation Commission to prevent the willful destruction of our City’s treasured landmarks by unscrupulous property owners. Tony’s legislation was strongly supported by 46 preservation and civic groups including the Landmarks Conservancy, the Historic Districts Council and the National Historic Trust.
As a trusted public servant, Tony has made fighting overdevelopment and protecting our quality of life his top priorities. In the City Council, Tony led the fight citywide against overdevelopment, the proliferation of McMansions, and other major abuses of the City’s building and zoning codes. In an effort to preserve the unique residential character and quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the City, Tony helped create new zoning districts such as R2A, which prevents the construction of McMansions, rezoned major portions of his district as well as numerous other neighborhoods in the City, and enacted citywide amendments to the “Community Facilities” section. Tony’s hard work resulted in the first real changes in the City’s zoning code in over 40 years. As a State Senator, Tony has continued his mission to preserve the character of our community and make eastern Queens a model for sensible, community-based planning.
In addition to his efforts to stop out-of-character construction, Tony has been at the forefront of the battle to reform the City’s Department of Buildings and the Board of Standards and Appeals. Tony was also the acknowledged leader in the City Council for landmark preservation, animal welfare and good government and has been a fighter for Veterans issues and benefits.
Tony’s reputation as a staunch reformist will help to bring real change to Albany. As a member of the City Council, Tony refused the “lulu;” an unethical and additional taxpayer funded salary increase in return for loyalty to council leadership instead of taxpayers. Tony fought against and subsequently refused the 25% City Council pay raise, which he considered unethical. As a State Senator, he has again refused any “lulus” for his committee positions. A strong advocate for more reform and transparency in government, Tony is fighting to transform the State Senate so that it works for the people once again.
During his tenure in the Council, Tony was honored by numerous fraternal organizations, civic associations, sports and school/educational groups. Tony has received such honors as the “Friend In High Places Award” from the Historic District Council, the Community Mayor’s Humanitarian Award, the coveted Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Benefactors’ Award from the Alley Pond Environmental Center. In 2009, Tony received the “New York City Human Rights Award” for obtaining the highest score of elected officials in New York City on the Human Rights Project’s report cards. A city-wide human rights coalition with over 100 groups from all over the City, the Human Rights Project is the lead organization of the New York City Human Rights Initiative.
Tony is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York. He is a lifelong Queens resident and currently resides in Whitestone, Queens with his wife Judith.