Larry Tesler, the Xerox researcher and computer pioneer who invented the copy and paste functions, died earlier this month. Unlike one former New York City mayor, whose Xerox-related comments recently made headlines, City & State does not copy and paste our New York City Power 100 list from year to year. We consult with experts, pore over news reports and analyze the accumulation of power.
That said, the top of the 2020 New York City Power 100 didn’t change much from last year. A year ago, Democrats had just assumed total control of state government. Now we largely know how Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislative leaders have settled into the new power structure that has a big say over the city’s affairs. And many of the city’s top leaders are either gearing up for their next run or finishing their final years in office.
In this year’s list, we’ve highlighted three prominent storylines for the year ahead. Dermot Shea went from being the CompStat numbers guy at the New York City Police Department to now running the show. New York City first lady Chirlane McCray could be on the verge of a new chapter in her career as a candidate for Brooklyn borough president. We also look ahead to the next big race in the New York City Council: the 2021 speaker’s race. With so many council members reaching the term limits of the office, will one of the few remaining incumbents be the next to lead the council?
We’re proud to present the 2020 New York City Power 100.
1. Andrew Cuomo
New York City may be the center of the world, but Albany is where true power lies. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo has capitalized on the authority of his office to drive the state’s policy agenda. In 2019, he spearheaded a plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan, approved criminal justice reforms, set education spending levels and made a deal banning plastic bags. This year, he’s poised to shift Medicaid cuts to New York City and other municipalities.
2. Carl Heastie
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has earned a reputation for being less heavy-handed than his predecessor, Sheldon Silver. But even with Democrats controlling all the levers of power in the state Capitol, the longtime Bronx power broker is standing up for the downstate-dominated chamber he has led since 2015 – whether it’s demanding that minority communities benefit from the legalization of recreational marijuana or insisting on not changing the state’s new cash bail law.
3. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
State Senate Majority Leader
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has increased her standing with her fellow Democrats by successfully striking a balance among her urban, suburban and rural members while passing a litany of big-ticket bills in 2019. The Yonkers Democrat is finding herself standing up for her fellow suburbanites – and at odds with some New York City lawmakers – on matters like reworking last year’s landmark bail reform legislation.
4. Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor
Let’s face it, 2019 wasn’t kind to the New York City mayor’s reputation, with a failed presidential run and few policy wins at home. He recently committed to “Save Our City” in his State of the City address, and he’s speaking from a position of power that most other politicians can only dream of – a $95 billion budget, a city workforce of more than 300,000 and a City Council that agrees with him on most of the big issues.
5. Donald Trump
In the wake of his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump has been unleashed. He has criticized Manhattan Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who was a leader in the impeachment proceedings. He has pardoned felons like former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik and criticized the prosecution of allies like political operative Roger Stone. When his administration blocked New Yorkers from using federal traveler programs, critics called it retaliation. And he continues to hold up funding for the Gateway rail tunnel.
NEXT STORY: The 2020 Education Power 100