Costa Constantinides was a landslide winner for the 22nd City Council District seat, beating four contenders with more than 65.6 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.
The lifelong Astoria resident spoke to hundreds of supporters who packed the Ravens Head Public House, at 23-70 31st St., Tuesday night, saying, “You get over 65 percent in a field of five, that’s really saying something!”
During his victory speech to family, friends and other leaders, Constantinides said, “The faith that the people in this district put on me is humbling.”
Lynne Serpe, of the Green Party, finished a distant second with 15 percent and congratulated the winner Wednesday morning, based on unofficial numbers reported by the Associated Press. Republican Daniel Peterson finished third with 11.2 percent and Conservative candidate Danielle De Stefano had 7.9 percent. Jerry Kann, the Populist candidate running for a fifth time, finished with less than 1 percent.
Constantinides is considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party, a community organizer and district leader with deep connections, having served on the staffs of several Council members, most recently as Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).
He had the endorsements of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and other local leaders, political clubs and labor unions.
Constantinides will take over the Council seat that was held by two generations of Vallones: outgoing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and his father Peter Vallone Sr. The two have held the office since 1974. The district covers Astoria, parts of Long Island City and, because of redistricting, a section of Jackson Heights.
State Assemblyman Mike DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights) spoke at the victory party and welcomed Constantinides aboard, saying, “Now I’ve got help fighting the airport noise!”
Also on hand was Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who welcomed Constantinides to a unique political team. All three are lifelong Astorians and, for the first time, all three Astoria leaders share Greek-American heritage.
“It’s a historic moment to become the first Greek on the City Council,” shouted Constantinides. “I’m proud of my roots and my heritage.”
The one TV news crew covering the event was from the only Greek-American station in the country, New Greek Television.
“This is a very, very big story for us,” said the newscaster, Dimitris Filippidis.
Astoria has always been known as a Greek enclave, especially in the years and between 1965 and 1980, when many returned home after the country joined the European Union. The current economic collapse has created a new swell of immigrants with many moving back to Astoria.
The three stressed that while the Greek community is a large part of Astoria, there is a multitude of other ethnicities as well.
“We’ve got over 160,000 constituents here and they will all have a voice at City Hall,” said Constantinides.
When he cast his ballot at PS 85, Constantinides was joined by his wife Lori and his 4-year-old son Nikolas. The prospects of his election seemed daunting to his wife, who prefers a more private life.
“I’ve been in Astoria my whole life, so it’s all pretty surreal. When we were married he was a toy store manager at KB. This was never in the plans,” she said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community News Group
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