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Tony Avella

Member of the New York City Council from the 19th District
In office
January 2002 – December 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

Born October 27, 1951 (1951-10-27) (age 58)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Judith
Residence Whitestone, Queens, New York
Alma mater Hunter College

Tony Avella is a Democratic member of the New York City Council from the borough of Queens. He represents the 19th Council District, which includes neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Beechhurst, Malba and Auburndale. A Democrat, he was first elected in 2001.

He is the Chair of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee and is a member of five other Council committees: Higher Education, Housing and Buildings, Fire and Criminal Justice Services, Land Use, and Veterans. He is the founder and Chair of the first Italian-American Caucus of the Council.

Avella 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[1] and against overdevelopment, but was defeated by Bill Thompson.[2]

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.[3]


Public service history

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 to State Senator Toby Stavisky.

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 District Council, the Community Mayor's 2005 Humanitarian Award and the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.[4]

Legislative concerns on the City Council

Avella introduced legislation which would require all businesses in New York City to post at least half of each sign in English. According to Avella, many businesses in his district in northeast Queens do not post signs in English. In 2004, a task force concluded that five percent of all businesses in a busy commercial portion of northeastern Queens posted signs that did not have any English. Avella said that he would continue to support passage of his legislation calling for all business to post signs including English language translations of "equal size and proportion". [5] This stance is due to his mostly white constituents "...feel[ing] they are being discriminated against by the business[es] because in their own neighborhood they don't know what this sign means." Avella said.[6]

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. Avella's legislation was supported by 46 preservation and civic groups, including the Landmarks Conservancy, the Historic Districts Council, and the National Historic Trust.

In 2005 Avella also 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.[7]

An attack occurred in 2007 in his district (Douglaston), on four Asian males by two Irish-American males (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.[8]

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.


  1. ^ "Bill Could Halt New York Carriage Horses". Retrieved 2009-09-05.  
  2. ^ "Tony Avella, the Anti-Overdevelopment Candidate". Brownstoner. Retrieved 2009-09-05.  
  3. ^ "New York City Council: District 19 - Tony Avella". Retrieved 2009-09-05.  
  4. ^ "Councilman Tony Avella". NY City Council. Retrieved 2007-01-14.  
  5. ^ "Lou Dobbs Tonight". CNN News. Retrieved 2007-01-14.  
  6. ^ "Make Biz Sign On To English". September 3, 2003. Retrieved 2009-09-05.  
  7. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Extending Bus Franchise". Retrieved 2007-01-15.  
  8. ^ "PUBLIC LIVES; Whose Queens? A Councilman Reads the Signs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-25.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Abel
New York City Council, 19th District
Succeeded by
Dan Halloran


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