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Aravella Simotas
Aravella Simotas 2011.jpg
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 36th district
In office
January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2020
Preceded by Michael Gianaris
Succeeded by Zohran Mamdani
Personal details
Born (1978-10-09) October 9, 1978 (age 44)
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) John Katsanos
Children 1
Education Fordham University (BA, JD)

Aravella Simotas (born October 9, 1978) is an American politician who represented District 36, covering parts of Western Queens, including Astoria and parts of Long Island City, in the New York State Assembly as a member of the Democratic Party.

Education and early life

Simotas was born in Rhodesia. She immigrated to the United States from Greece and settled in Astoria with her parents and brother when she was an infant. She graduated from P.S. 17, Junior H.S. 126, and William C. Bryant High School.

She received a B.A. degree (summa cum laude) from Fordham University in 1999, followed by a J.D. degree from the Fordham University School of Law in 2002. During law school, she was the managing editor at the Fordham Environmental Law Journal.

Early career

Simotas began her career in public service as a district representative for Speaker of the New York City Council, Peter Vallone Sr. and later for New York City Council member Peter Vallone Jr. While at law school, she also worked at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

After law school, Simotas served as a law clerk at the United States Court of International Trade and later practiced law in New York City.

Simotas served as a member of the Queens Community Planning Board 1 and the United Community Civic Association.

Electoral history

2010 election

Simotas was first elected to office in 2010. She received the Democratic Party nomination and ran unopposed in the November 2, 2010, general election.

2012 election

Simotas was unopposed in the 2012 Democratic primary. In the general election, she ran on both the Democratic and Working Families Party lines and was opposed by Republican Julia Haitch.

According to preliminary results collected by the Daily News, Simotas won re-election to the State Assembly, for the new District 36, in the general election on November 6, 2012, with 84% of the vote.

2020 election

She lost her 2020 Democratic primary to Democratic Socialist Zohran Mamdani.

Committee assignments

Simotas's Committee Assignments as of 2018 included:

  • Chair, Committee on Ethics and Guidance
  • Co-chair, Legislative Ethics Commission
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary
  • Ways and Means
  • Energy

Simotas was appointed Chair of the Assembly's Ethics and Guidance Committee in 2017. Under her leadership, the Committee updated the Assembly's policy prohibiting harassment and discrimination to require expedited investigations and expand the types of conduct violating the policy.

From 2014 to 2017, Simotas served as Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Women's Issues and Administrative and Regulatory Review Commission.

Policy positions

LGBTQ rights

Simotas voted in favor of same-sex marriage in New York. Simotas had been a lead sponsor ("co-sponsor") of Assembly Bill A08354, which passed the Assembly by an 80–63 vote, later passed the Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Since she first took office, Simotas supported the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), for which she was a "multi-sponsor".

Energy and environment

Simotas served as chairperson of Smart Power NY, a coalition to develop new energy sources for Western Queens. One of its goals was to support the replacement of "decades-old, dirty" power plants in Astoria with newer generators.

Other issues

QSAC 5K 2013
Simotas at the QSAC's annual 5K race for Autism in September 2013

Simotas has pushed for the allocation of additional polling sites and the expansion of early voting.

Simotas joined several other public officials in protesting against the anti-immigrant Greek organization, Golden Dawn, which held a recruitment meeting in Queens. Simotas said that the anti-immigrant message was not welcome in her community; she expressed anger because she is an immigrant herself.

Simotas has supported the expansion of Mount Sinai Queens hospital, which is undergoing a $125 million building project, noting the expanding population of western Queens and the necessity of increased healthcare opportunities to meet the needs of a growing community.

In 2013, Simotas supported the retention and expansion of Gifted and Talented programs in her district. Simotas has assisted in keeping local public schools open and functioning in her district, including Long Island City High School, which has been threatened with closing or "co-location" (consolidation) since the early 2010s.

Simotas has pushed for cleaner streets in Astoria, calling upon Mayor Bill de Blasio to take action and reduce street waste and litter.

Personal life

Simotas is married to John Katsanos, and they have one daughter, born in 2012.

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