NY State Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader fights for relief for tenants, homeowners and small business – He faces a primary on June 23
New York.- Vicki James Yiannias
The COVID-19 crisis has brought forward the need for action on several of Senator Mike Gianaris’s longtime commitments. Deputy Majority Leader representing New York’s 12th State Senate District, Senator Gianaris, Democrat, born and raised in Astoria, Queens–where he still lives, and the first Greek American in New York to be elected, talked with the GN about helping and supporting the people in his district in the unusual circumstances of a viral pandemic. Senator Gianaris is up for re-election in the June 23 primary.
GN:You have been a champion of tenants’ and homeowners’ rights. How has your bill proposing 90-day suspension of rent and mortgage payments for those in financial trouble due to the coronavirusprogressed?
MG: I am working with tenants, homeowners, and small businesses to propose relief at this difficult time.Government made the decision to shut down the economy, and we shouldn’t be penalizing those who are losing income because of that decision. My efforts are gaining significant support in the legislature, and over two dozen Senators have signed on to craft the best solution possible for everyone. I have also talked to people in the federal government and urged them to make assistance for renters and small landlords part of the next relief package, as well as more help for our small businesses.
GN: A supporter of Mutual Aid Efforts, you have focused your efforts on partnering local mutual aid organizations and food pantries during the pandemic. How has this developed?
MG: I am fortunate to have great relationships with civic minded volunteers in our community. When this crisis began, many of those people got right to work. Restaurants converted their kitchens to support pantries, PTA leaders organized their members to deliver supplies, small business owners did everything they could.I have been providing support to pantries and mutual aid groups, connecting them with supplies and volunteers. Just last week, I delivered thousands of masks and hand sanitizer to some of these groups. In the coming week, I’ll be announcing a new partnership to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables.
Q: You have always supported the efforts of community services that help seniors maintain a “healthy and vibrant” lifestyle. Please tell us about how you are helping to keep seniors safe from COVID-19.
MG: When the covid-19 pandemic started, the first thing I did was compile critical information and mailed that to all the seniors in my neighborhoods, to make sure they were informed. I have been in regular contact with service organizations that support seniors, like HANAC and Sunnyside Community Services, to make sure people are well cared for by their communities. We have also made it easier for everyone to vote in the June 23rdprimary election–everyone can now vote by mail so they don’t have to show up at the polls and place themselves in danger.
GN: In January, the CWA (Communications Workers of America) District 1 backed your re-election. How will you continue standing with workers?
MG: The CWA is a leading voice of the progressive movement and I am honored to receive their endorsement. I will continue to stand with workers as we seek a more level playing field.As
we fight back against federal attacks on organized labor, I am proud New York is on the front lines defending working people.
Now more than ever, working people need to know government has their back. That means ensuring the people who stand on the frontlines during the pandemic will have support in the form of adequate healthcare, housing and educational opportunities for them and their families. I will keep fighting for those priorities.
GN: How have you helped Greek Americans?
MG: As New York’s first elected Greek American, I have always taken my responsibility to my community very seriously. In addition to supporting policies that protect immigrants like my parents, I am proud to have opened the door for other Greek Americans to enter political life. We know have a record-high 6 Greek Americans in the state legislature who work together in support of the important issues we care about.
GN: Is there anything more that you would like our readers to know?
MG: I take my responsibility to lead this community to heart and am doing all in my power toprovide support and help to the people I represent. If anyone is in need of assistance, my office is available to help.
The 12th State Senate district includes the Queens neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodhaven
Mike Gianaris‘s team is standing by ready to helpand can be reached anytime by leaving a message at (718) 728-0960 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.