The 2019 Long Island Power 100
The 2019 Long Island Power 100
Long Island isn’t short on political clout. The region has its share of high-profile New York power brokers, from Rep. Pete King to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The island long held outsized sway in the state Senate, with Republican leaders like Dean Skelos and John Flanagan controlling the upper house in recent years and upsets on the island paving the way for Democrats to seize control of the chamber in 2018. The elected executives of Nassau and Suffolk counties – hailing from different parties at times – have been important allies of the governor. Other politicians – members of Congress, state lawmakers, county legislators and town supervisors – all play pivotal roles as well.
That’s why we’re doubling the length of this list and bolstering it with top elected officials and high-ranking government employees, who were all left off last year’s Long Island Power 50. We’ve reached out to insiders and experts to compile this list of local movers and shakers, considering records, political influence, business acumen, philanthropic efforts and the constituencies each individual represents. Once again, we partnered on this project with Jennifer Solomon, a communications professional who used her expertise and insights to help assemble a truly impressive list: the Long Island Power 100.
1. Andrew Cuomo
In a region known for its layers of government, Long Islanders know there is one politician who sits above them all: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo has a complicated relationship with Long Islanders, bestowing a permanent property tax cap on one hand and serving them with congestion pricing in the other. His support of the Long Island Rail Road will be part of his legacy, as he has delivered projects and funding that are transforming the 185-year-old system by updating crumbling stations, adding tracks in strategic locations and investing in – if not completing – the East Side Access project to connect Long Islanders directly to Grand Central Terminal. The downside is that the newly passed congestion pricing plan is expected to disproportionately impact Long Islanders, with most of those funds slated to update New York City’s subways.
Cuomo’s opposition to offshore drilling and his tangible support for offshore wind, funds for clean water infrastructure and sewers are all key Long Island-centric priorities – and demonstrate his ability to deliver on quality-of-life issues impacting the region.
2. Charles Schumer
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer may technically be from Brooklyn, but his regular presence on Long Island and his ability to own niche community issues have earned him local credibility. No matter the climate in Washington, D.C., Long Islanders can count on Schumer’s support for the Long Island Sound, the local fishing industries, three airports and infrastructure funding of all kinds. Schumer was a key player in Canon’s decision to build its headquarters in Melville, where it now employs more than 1,000 people, and he recently came out against a new National Flood Insurance plan that he says would unfairly impact Long Island coastal communities, some of which are still rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy.
As Senate minority leader, Schumer is one of the more powerful people in the nation, with the ability to negotiate meaningful wins for the region and state. His role gives him some power within the New York delegation, where he continues to shine as a pragmatic dealmaker who delivers for the families of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
3. Pete King
Having been in office for more than a quarter century, Rep. Pete King is one of Long Island’s longest-serving politicians. An establishment Republican with a hawkish stance on national defense matters and a seat on the Homeland Security Committee, King has also become an ally of President Donald Trump. His support of the law enforcement community and his outrage at the region’s gang problem played a role in Trump’s visit to speak at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage last spring.
On other Long Island issues, King’s been unafraid to ruffle feathers in Washington when advocating for funding Superstorm Sandy recovery and 9/11 victim compensation, and when opposing the new cap on state and local tax deductions. He has a history of bipartisanship on issues concerning Long Island’s North Shore and protecting the Long Island Sound, while remaining true to his Republican roots on issues like abortion and immigration.
Amid the “blue wave” in 2018, King fought off a challenge by winning another term with a surprisingly narrow 53% of the vote.
4. Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is a veteran of Long Island politics, having served in local office since the age of 28. After rising through the ranks in Babylon as councilman and supervisor, Bellone successfully ran for the county’s top position in 2011. Throughout his career, his signature issue has been sustainable and transit-oriented economic development, with a focus on energy-efficient building, underserved communities and clean water infrastructure. His legacy projects include Wyandanch Rising, the Ronkonkoma Hub and “Connect Long Island,” a vision to weave Suffolk County’s downtowns together with a comprehensive transit plan.
Bellone touts the county’s “slow and steady march” to fiscal recovery from the $500 million deficit he inherited, as well as progress in combating the MS-13 gang and increasing the number of narcotics search warrants in response to the opioid epidemic. He’s considered the front-runner for his upcoming reelection bid, but an increasingly crowded field of Republican challengers are pointing to “fiscal mismanagement” in hopes of ousting him before he’s sworn in for a third term.
5. Laura Curran
Nassau County Executive
Now in the second year of her first term, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is living up to her campaign promise to reform county government, starting with a “zero tolerance” order on gift-giving. Some of her signature accomplishments to date include property tax reform, which was badly needed in the county, as well as a massive overhaul of Nassau University Medical Center, resulting in more than $2 million in savings.
Curran has also made strides on economic development in Nassau County. The Nassau Hub project, which has been debated and delayed for decades, was finally approved under her watch and is expected to move forward, bringing jobs, entertainment and housing to the area around Nassau Coliseum. Her vision to make Nassau County a destination also includes a new downtown-like community in Belmont, with a new arena for the New York Islanders to call home. As the first woman to hold this office, Curran also pledged to hire women for about half of the county’s 21 top jobs.