Senator Michael Gianaris was born in Astoria, Queens. He is a graduate of the New York City public school system, having attended Public School 84, Junior High School 141 and Long Island City High School. He then attended Fordham University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Political Science and went on to receive his law degree from Harvard Law School.
Senator Gianaris was elected to the State Senate in 2010 with over 81% of the vote after a decade of dedicated public service in the State Assembly. He is the first Greek-American to be elected to office from New York City and has served his community and state with unique effectiveness. His career in public service began as an aid to Congressman Thomas Manton, and he later became Governor Mario Cuomo’s Queens County Regional Representative. Until his election to the Assembly in 2000, he served as a Counsel to the Speaker of the Assembly. He also practiced law as a litigator in private practice for several years. In his community, Senator Gianaris served as a member of Community Board # 1, Legal Counsel to the United Community Civic Association and as a Board member of the Eastern Orthodox Lawyers Association.
Among his many triumphs in the Legislature, Senator Gianaris authored important public safety measures, including the state’s first major anti-terror law after the September 11th attacks. His Energy Security Act, which has become a national model, strengthens security at New York’s power plants and transmission centers. He is a staunch advocate for consumers, authoring the first-in-the-nation Airline Passenger Bill of Rights law which inspired federal rules that now ensure travelers are treated with respect and dignity while on commercial airplanes. He was instrumental in establishing the state’s film tax credit, which has brought thousands of new jobs to western Queens.
Senator Gianaris is also an advocate for enhanced environmental protections and the need to reshape New York’s energy policy. He wrote the Clean Energy Law, which encouraged the private sector to utilize modern technologies to dramatically reduce pollution while increasing productivity. His clean energy efforts led to the closure of the Poletti Power Plant in Astoria, which was New York’s biggest polluter. He also held Con Edison accountable for the serious, lengthy blackouts that took place throughout western Queens in 2006, which damaged local businesses and community members’ homes. Thanks to Senator Gianaris’s efforts, Con Ed was forced to pay restitution to all those hurt by the blackouts.
Since joining the Senate in 2011, Senator Gianaris has continued his efforts to make state government better serve the people of New York, pushing for the passage of a Fair Pay Act to ensure women are not discriminated against in the workplace, increasing the minimum wage so workers can afford to provide for their families and making our streets safer by advocating more sensible gun laws. He also continues to be a leading advocate for clean and renewable energy to improve western Queens’ air quality and rid it of poisonous toxins emitted from outdated power plants.
Senator Gianaris has maintained his reputation as a leading reformer in the effort to combat dysfunction in state government. He led the charge for redistricting reform, which the New York Times called “the real key to reform” in Albany, by introducing legislation in 2006 creating an independent commission to redraw legislative and congressional district lines. Senate Republicans, however, failed to pass this important initiative. He also continues to advocate for campaign finance reform to reduce the possibility of corruption and ensure that elected officials act in the best interest of their constituents rather than those with the deepest pockets.