Special to the Hellenic News of America
Nicole Malliotakis wants to keep the American Dream alive, like it was for her Greek and Cuban immigrant parents.
Malliotakis is running for Congress in New York’s 11th District, a lone Republican conservative voice in a field she feels is overrun with left-leaning socialists.
She points to the socialist efforts of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken member of the Congressional delegation in New York, as an example.
“My parents came to this country to achieve. I feel it’s very important right now that we work to preserve the American Dream for future generations,” she said. “There’s a movement to push our nation more toward socialism which I’m very much opposed to and I feel now’s a critical time. I want to be a part of that fight to preserve our country.”
Malliotakis is completing her fifth term as New York State Assemblywoman for the 64th District and was one of the first two Greek-American women elected to office in New York State.
She was also the Republican nominee in New York City’s 2017 mayoral election, running against incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio.
She also served as Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman.
The seat she’s going after, currently held by Democrat Max Rose, has traditionally been occupied by a Republican. The 11th District includes Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn.
“That’s why this seat is so critically important because it was historically the only Republican voice in New York City. We need to get it back this election,” she said.
Reflecting on her background, Malliotakis hopes to be a voice for Greek Americans, as well as Hispanics and women.
As a state legislator, she’s been a member of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association, working with Republicans and Democrats to promote issues important to the Greek Diaspora.
Malliotakis has already developed strong relationships with the people and organizations supporting Greek causes, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bob Menendez, and Justice for Cyprus.
She’s looking forward to eventually serving on the foreign relations committee and advancing legislation to help Greece and Greek Americans.
“It’s so important to have a Greek-American in Washington, someone who will have the ear of President Trump and can convey the positions of the Greek American community,” she said.
- Enhancing trade relations between Greece and the U.S.
- Supporting sanctions against Turkey for its incursions in the Eastern Mediterranean, over Greece and in Cyprus
- Supporting the tri-lateral agreement between Greece, Cyprus and Israel
- Opposing the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.
- Supporting Greek Macedonia
Malliotakis said she’s in a good position to win the 11th District, with the support of the Greek American community. During the 2017 mayoral race, she won 67 percent of the district.
“Our polling indicates it is a tight race,” she said. “This is a district that President Trump won by 10 percent.”
Malliotakis grew up in Staten Island, raised by her father, who was originally from Crete; and her mother, a Cuban refugee escaping communist rule under Fidel Castro.
Their coming together is a typical New York story.
“Two people from different parts of the world that came to this country to pursue the American Dream and they met here in New York, which is the melting pot of our nation and of the world,” she said.
Her father worked multiple jobs in America, from cleaning auto parts to being a bus boy.
He eventually became a waiter, then a restauranteur.
Her mother and father started their own business in Brooklyn, importing home décor from Italy.
“Even when he had his business in Brooklyn he was working nights as a hotel banquet waiter. So he was always working two jobs,” Malliotakis said.
Her mother, before working in the family business, had been a cosmetologist and helped out at the restaurant.
“Obviously, my parents worked very hard to provide me with a better life,” she said.
Now, only a generation later, her immigrant parents have a daughter who is running for the U.S. Congress.
That’s the land of opportunity Malliotakis is hoping to preserve.
Her parents instilled in her their strong work value, respect for the community and elders, and the importance of honesty.
“My father is the most honest person I know,” she said.
Growing up, she was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith and went to Greek school, but she also speaks Spanish.
She’s proud of the Greek and Cuban influences she was exposed to.
“I think the most important thing is my father coming from the birthplace of Democracy, my mother fleeing a Communist country. Certainly, they instilled in me a love of America and patriotism.”
In fact, it was her mother, a refugee from a communist state that got her interested in politics.
“My mother felt so strongly about being able to elect your leaders so she got me involved at a young age, volunteering on campaigns.”
Entry into politics
The first campaign she volunteered for in 1997 was a special election for a local city councilman who happened to be running for U.S. House of Representatives, the 11th District.
“Here I am 23 years later running for the very seat that my mother first brought me to volunteer for 23 years ago.”
Her number one issue is public safety, “restoring law and order to our public streets.”
Malliotakis has received the endorsement of the NYC Police Benevolent Association representing 50,000 active and retired members of the NYPD. She opposes police budget cuts to the police, like the one-sixth budget cut recently made to the New York Police Department.
A “dangerous shift to the left” has allowed dangerous policies like defunding the police, she said.
It’s also important to restore our strong economy and restore jobs to pre-COVID levels.
“We had the lowest unemployment in the history of our nation pre-COVID and we need to get back there,” she said.
Malliotakis is a big supporter of the business community and fighting against policies that hurt businesses.
She’s joining a class action lawsuit to force Mayor de Blasio to restore indoor dining at New York City restaurants.
“In every other municipality in the state, restaurants are open for indoor dining, but not in New York City.” Businesses know how to reopen safely in a COVID-19 world and should be allowed to do so, she said.
She’s voted against tax increases 350 times and works to reduce “burdensome, nonsensical regulation.”
On healthcare, she supports “good quality healthcare” and “good consumer choice,” while protecting the coverage for those who can’t afford it.
Her most significant contribution to the community, and her proudest achievement, was helping residents recover and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.
“I had thousands of people who were homeless or who lost everything,” she said. Her office took on the bureaucracy and the insurance companies to help restore people’s lives in the 60th District.
In these partisan, strange pandemic days, Malliotakis sees a new group of Republicans rising to the challenge.
“I’m happy to see that the Republican Party has a bench of young, dynamic, elected officials who are conservative-minded…” she said. “We’re seeing young people and many women running under the Party banner this year, including myself.”
To find out more about Nicole Malliotakis and her campaign for the 11th District, visit nicolemalliotakis.com.