Originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter
Michael Tannousis, a former prosecutor, is looking to succeed Nicole Malliotakis as the assemblymember for the 64th District, which covers parts of Brooklyn and the East Shore of Staten Island.
Tannousis, a Republican, is the son of immigrant parents who came to America after his family was displaced during the conflict in Cyprus. He attended Msgr. Farrell High School in Staten Island then matriculated to SUNY Binghamton.
Tannousis joined the staff of then-New York City Council Minority Leader James Oddo in 2006. “I was doing constituent services and that’s where I really got a glimpse of how city government and state government affects taxpayers in their daily lives,” he told this paper.
After graduating from Pace Law School, Tannousis was admitted to the
New York State Bar in 2012. He became an assistant district attorney in the Bronx, then was hired by Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon to serve in Staten Island in 2016.
Tannousis prosecuted numerous cases, including drug dealers and some of New York’s most violent criminals during his tenure at McMahon’s office, and secured convictions for major felonies. Among these were the successful trial of Ricky Dennis for a double-murder in Dongan Hills and the re-trial of Michael Sykes in the Ramada Inn murders.
The experience helped Tannousis decide on a career in public service.
“Working as a prosecutor you deal with victims on a daily basis, each with a different story, and you really see people at some of the worst times in their lives. My job as a prosecutor was to ensure the public safety, to protect the rights of those victims and to also protect the integrity of the process,” said Tannousis.
Tannousis believes that Albany is not protecting the rights of the victims and not protecting the interests of the taxpayers.
“For over seven years, I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into fighting for the victims of violent crimes and for keeping our community safe,” he said.
In July, he became an associate at the Bay Ridge law firm Connors & Sullivan, PLLC.
“I think Mike Tannousis’s candidacy is going to prove to be exciting,” Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair Fran Vella-Marrone told this paper. “I think he’s going to do a great job in his campaign and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
New legislation from Albany prompted Tannousis to run for office. He specifically took issue with the elimination of cash bail for many criminal defendants, even for sellers of fentanyl and opioids, and forcing the disclosure of key witnesses’ personal information to the defense, which he says leaves the witnesses vulnerable to intimidation.
“One specific law that sticks out in my mind is that, come January 2020, prosecutors are going to have 15 days to turn over witness information to the defense, which means they will not only disclose the names of the witnesses but the contact information to make them available,” he explained.
Tannousis says he is willing to work in a bipartisan fashion.
“I’m a Republican but I want to work with anyone that has the same interests as me, which is basically to better our community both in Staten Island and Brooklyn,” he told this paper.
He continued, “I intend to give voice to the concerns and values of the hard-working people of Staten Island and Brooklyn who deserve a state government that puts their interests first … from public safety, tax relief and job creation, to transportation and other quality of life challenges.”
Tannousis believes that Malliotakis, who is running for the 11th U.S. congressional seat currently held by incumbent Max Rose and who is now the only Republican representing any portion of Brooklyn, has performed well in the Assembly.
“She has been the voice of the taxpayers in the 64th District in the State Assembly. She has been the voice of common sense in a legislative body that lacks common sense,” he said. “I want to continue to be that voice. I bring a unique experience to the table and that unique experience is going to drive me to be that voice for the residents of the 64th Assembly District.”
Malliotakis is encouraged by Tannousis’s candidacy. “For me it’s very important that the person who succeeds me is … capable of continuing the work I’ve done for the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island in … a time when citizens feel that they are getting the shaft,” Malliotakis told this paper.
“I think Michael is someone who has good experience, particularly as a prosecutor, at a time when law and order is being questioned in our city,” she added. “He’s someone who has an interest in protecting the victims and preventing crime while ensuring that those who perpetrate crimes are held accountable. He … will fit well in the legislature as a voice of reason.”