The One Thing My Mother Did When I Was A Teen That Changed How I Thought About My Body.

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And her conservative record is not likely to pull Democratic voters to her side. She has sued the city over a program that provides identification cards to residents, trying to block officials from destroying records that might be used to identify people for deportation.

And she has repeatedly spoken out against a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to be eligible for state financial aid.

“My father is from Greece, my mother is from Cuba, and I understand very much the aspirations of wanting to achieve the American dream,” she said from the Assembly floor in 2014, in prefacing her opposition to the student aid bill, which she called misguided and unfair.

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Ms. Malliotakis was elected senior class president at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, and her friends sensed more was in her future.

These days, in campaign visits — to Korean senior centers in Queens, a church in Harlem — Ms. Malliotakis, 36, regularly invokes her family story, but for a different purpose: She knows that it is one of the best ways she can connect with voters in a liberal-minded city where nearly 40 percent of residents are foreign-born.

Her appeal as a child of immigrants may be compromised by her conservative voting record and positions on issues that directly affect many of those same people.

“I, too, am the daughter of immigrants,” said Linda Rosenthal, a Democratic assemblywoman from Manhattan, whose parents fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s. “But when someone says that, at least in the New York City context, your next thought is they relate to other children of immigrants in supporting their attempt to stay in this country, not the other side. So it’s almost like trying to have it both ways.”

Yet the immigrant story is root and branch of Ms. Malliotakis’ political career. Her mother fled Cuba in 1959, shortly after the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution and she instilled in her daughter a fiery hatred of communism, matched by a veneration of American democracy.

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And it was her mother, spurred by her passion for her adopted country, who gave Ms. Malliotakis her first push into politics.

Ms. Malliotakis was born on Nov. 11, 1980, at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, a week after Ronald Reagan was elected president. The family lived in an apartment on East 56th Street until she was about 2, when her parents bought a two-story house on Staten Island, in Great Kills. Her father worked a variety of jobs; he was a headwaiter at the Chateau Madrid nightclub in Manhattan and operated a string of hot dog carts during the day.

For a while, her parents owned a restaurant called Gyro Snack on East 54th Street. Later, they operated a business importing bibelots from Italy: Capodimonte figurines and Murano crystal. As a teen, during summer vacations, Ms. Malliotakis helped out at the warehouse in Brooklyn.

Her mother, Vera, would often talk about life in Cuba. As a girl, she met Fidel Castro in his guerrilla years, when he came down from the mountains to her town, Contramaestre, to visit friends, bringing along a chicken to cook. He was charming, she said. But things changed when he came to power. The two gas stations that her father owned were seized by the government. Her father stayed, thinking Castro couldn’t last, but Vera and other relatives left the country.

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Ms. Malliotakis, who is seeking to become the first woman to be elected mayor of New York City, has supplemented the usual campaign buttons with nail files emblazoned with her name. Credit Holly Pickett for The New York Times

“I understand where my mother came from, not being able to elect your leaders,” Ms. Malliotakis said.

It was her mother, too, who inadvertently set her political career in motion.

“It was my fault,” Vera Malliotakis, 73, joked, speaking in Spanish in an interview in a Staten Island diner. “When Nicole was small, she was shy. I wondered what I could do with her. She didn’t like music, she didn’t sing or dance.”

Her child’s pediatrician suggested that Nicole try acting or sports. Mrs. Malliotakis had a different idea.

“I put her in politics,” she said. “I picked it because I wanted her to talk to people.”

Nicole Malliotakis volunteered to work on the campaign of a candidate for Congress. “She stuffed envelopes, talked to people on the phone, handed out palm cards,” Vera Malliotakis said.

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The candidate, Vito J. Fossella, won, and Ms. Malliotakis caught the political bug.

Soon enough, she won a campaign of her own: She was elected senior class president at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, and her friends sensed more was in her future. “Most of us would write in her yearbook something like, ‘Dear Senator,’ or ‘first female president,’” said Salvatore Chieffo, a high school friend.

But it was her own inscription, beside her Class of 1998 portrait, that could serve as a guidepost for her bid to unseat Mayor de Blasio in the Nov. 7 election.

“Be courageous and bold,” she wrote. “When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.”

By her senior year, Nicole Malliotakis had clearly overcome her shyness: In the yearbook of the New Dorp Class of 1998, Nicole was named “class citizen,” “class chatterbox” and “class flirt.”

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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/nyregion/nicole-malliotakis-mayor-election-republican-immigrant.html

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