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Moya, Simotas ready for debut in Assembly

When the state Assembly opens its 2011 legislative session in January, two new faces from western Queens will be seen on the floor. Democrats Francisco Moya of Corona and Aravella Simotas of Astoria, both of whom had no opponents in the general election, stepped into seats left open by officials moving on to the state Senate.

“I feel really honored and humbled by the vote of confidence that took place in the primary as well as the general,” Moya said in an interview.

Moya is now assemblyman-elect for the 39th District, which covers Corona, Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights and has had a vacancy since March. Democrat Jose Peralta left the position after winning the East Elmhurst Senate seat in a special election, which was open after former Sen. Hiram Monserrate was ousted after being found guilty of an assault charge against his girlfriend Karla Giraldo.

Monserrate ran against Peralta in the March special election as well as against Moya in the primary elections in September. Moya ran unopposed in the general election after the Republican candidate, Humberto Suarezmotta, was kept off the ballot for failing to hand in a cover sheet with his campaign signatures.

Moya said he had nothing to do with Suarezmotta’s ballot problems and had not challenged his signatures. He called Suarezmotta a “nice guy” and said he hoped they could work together in the future.

“I wish him nothing but the best,” Moya said.

To the west, Simotas will be the assemblywoman for the 36th District, which covers Astoria and Long Island City, including the Queensbridge and Ravenswood public houses. She will be replacing outgoing Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, who won the seat of outgoing Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria) in the general election. Simotas had no Republican opponents and her two Democratic opponents, attorneys John Ciafone and Jeremiah Frei-Pearson, dropped out before the primary election.

Simotas, who volunteered on Gianaris’ original campaign for the Assembly 10 years ago, said taking over for the assemblyman is “very thrilling.”

“I know I have very large shoes to fill, but I’m going to work very hard to make the community proud,” Simotas said.

Moya said he wanted to work hard in the Assembly for the community he will represent.

“The real work begins now. We’re going to have a tough, tough budget coming up,” he said.

Moya said he also wanted to work on stimulating the economy through bringing back manufacturing jobs to the district and protecting small businesses. Another goal is to help clean up the crime and gang violence along Roosevelt Avenue.

Simotas said that after visiting with constituents throughout the campaign, she will try to work in Albany on ensuring constituents get affordable access to health care. She said the area needed a bigger hospital.

“We have a lot of young, new families that are coming in with children,” Simotas said.

She said she also hopes to get on committees to work on the environment and education in the Assembly. She said she wants to examine how money is spent on education in the district, try to keep funding for after-school programs and work on the air quality in the district since the neighborhood is home to multiple power plants, LaGuardia Airport and major highways.

“We live in the epicenter of a lot of pollution going on,” Simotas said.

Moya thanked his future constituents.

“I want them to be assured that nobody will be working harder for them than me in Albany,” Moya said.

Simotas said she was grateful for the messages of support and congratulations from her constituents.

“Each and every one of them is my boss,” Simotas said. “I have a debt to them and I look forward to going to Albany and advocating on their behalf.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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