Astoria, Ditmars Steinway, Woodside
Aravella Simotas ★ Preferred Candidate
Occupation: New York State Assembly Member
Education: Fordham University, B.A. and J.D.
Candidate Website: https://aravella.com/
Aravella Simotas was first elected to office in 2011, becoming the first Greek-American woman to represent her district in the State Assembly. She is the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues and from 2017 to 2020 served as Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Guidance. As a legislator, she has been dedicated to women’s rights and fighting sexual harassment. She introduced and passed laws that extended the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes, added workplace protections from sexual harassment, and created a bill of rights for survivors of rape and sexual assault, among others. Simotas has signed on to several pieces of legislation pertinent to reform issues, including election reform, ethics reform, and police accountability. More recently, she sponsored a bill that would let voters apply for absentee ballots electronically, which was approved as part of the COVID-19 legislative package. She supports Citizens Union’s reform agenda and promises to work to replace JCOPE with an independent enforcement agency to investigate ethics complaints, and pledges to advocate for meaningful campaign finance reforms. Simotas’ main campaign issues include women’s rights, the Green New Deal, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, healthcare, unions, education, transportation, and economic justice. Citizens Union prefers Simotas in this race because she is an established and accomplished community leader and has a proven record of passing significant pieces of legislation.
Occupation: Foreclosure Housing Counselor, Advocacy Group Chhaya CDC
Education: Bowdoin College, B.A.
Candidate Website: https://www.zohranforassembly.com/
Zohran Mamdani is an Indian-Ugandan Queens activist who works as a foreclosure housing counselor, assisting immigrant families facing eviction in Queens. He is also an organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America’s NYC chapter, and previously worked on several local election campaigns for City Council, State Senate, and District Attorney. Mamdani prioritizes housing issues, ending corporate control of utilities, and passing criminal justice reform, among other objectives. He supports all of Citizens Union’s questionnaire items, and notes that he seeks to expand the electorate by engaging communities that have been historically underrepresented, including the Muslim and South Asian communities in the district. Mamdani also promises to never accept corporate, big real estate, or big PAC money, and stresses that the legislature needs to keep the government in check. Citizens Union was impressed by Mamdani’s concrete proposals for change and the clarity and conviction on issues. We encourage him to continue serving his community through public service, but we do not prefer him in this race due to the strength of his opponent.