I hope you and your families are in good health as we anticipate the blessed Christmas season and a new year filled with hope and happiness.
Protecting, preserving, and promoting Columbus Day and Columbus Statues by speaking out for the truth is the overarching aim of the Columbus Heritage Coalition. We understand that outreach to elected leaders and policymakers is essential. The Coalition must create and build positive relationships.
We now have a positive relationship with the new Mayor of NYC, Eric Adams. He has assured me that he supports us. We look forward to a growing partnership as Mayor Adams responds to the many critical challenges in 2022 for the city we love.
The new year also brings a City Council with many new faces and elections for state offices, from Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller to all members of the state Legislature.
The Coalition is actively engaging each candidate in the governor’s race. We want to know where they stand on issues vital to the Italian American community and all New Yorkers.
I have personally met with four declared candidates running for governor. I intend to create an opportunity for you to meet each candidate. I will be collaborating with the Columbus Citizens Foundation to invite each candidate, regardless of party affiliation, to meet with us and share their views on all issues that concern us.
I have had numerous conversations with Rep. Tom Suozzi. I know he is a friend to many of us and a strong community supporter. He will be a very substantial candidate in the Democratic primary and is looking forward to addressing our community.
I met privately with Governor Hochul to express our community’s strong displeasure over the sudden termination of the director of the Office of Italian American Affairs and reports of the impending defunding of the office itself. The governor referred our concerns to her top aid, Karen Persichilli Keogh, Secretary to the Governor. Secretary Keogh responded that the position of director would be filled and the office fully funded. Secretary Keogh also told me that the governor supports Columbus Day.
Rob Astorino, another Italian American seeking the governorship, supports our community and is also very interested in meeting with us. He is well known to Westchester residents as a former county executive and has run for governor in the past.
Along with Robert Ferrito and Joe Scelsa, I met with Rep. Lee Zeldin, who expressed his full support for our community. We look forward to hosting him at a meeting soon.
On the international front, I had the good fortune to be seated with Ambassador Mariangela Zappia at a luncheon in her honor. We discussed support from Italy, the horrible killing of an outstanding Italian-born doctoral student at Columbia University, and the recent endorsement by the Italian parliament of Columbus. We will continue our communications with her office and hope to have her address members of the Coalition soon.
I must also say that we have a friend in the Consul General of Italy in New York, Fabrizio Di Michelle. He sees Columbus as a symbol of unity for all migrants–from the ancestors of the indigenous to all who faced a vast unknown in search of liberty, opportunity, and a better life.
I will be forwarding dates in the New Year for you to meet with each candidate for governor. So please stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
I wish you and your families a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with Hope and Happiness.
Warm regards and stay safe,
Angelo Vivolo, President
Columbus Heritage Foundation