Westchester Power 100
Westchester Power 100
Westchester is where it’s at. It’s the home of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. It’s where two fresh young House candidates – Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones – broke through this year. And it’s shifting from a red-blue battleground (County Executive George Latimer knocked out Republican Rob Astorino only a few years ago) to an intra-party contest over the future of the Democratic Party, with newcomers like Jones, Bowman and District Attorney-elect Mimi Rocah all replacing more moderate officeholders come 2021. City & State’s Westchester Power 100 reflects those political trends, while also putting a spotlight on the business executives, labor leaders, academics, activists, advocates and others who are shaping the future of the county.
1. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
State Senate Majority Leader
A decade ago, the state Senate Democrats were a laughingstock. But since Andrea Stewart-Cousins took control, the conference has eliminated the dysfunction, won an impressive majority and enacted a slate of progressive laws. And as her conference continues to grow, it’s no surprise that Stewart-Cousins, a suburbanite, has effectively balanced downstate’s needs with growing the party’s upstate and suburban contingents.
2. George Latimer
Westchester County Executive
Westchester County Executive George Latimer spent decades rising through the political ranks, from the Rye City Council to the Westchester County Board of Legislators – where he served as chair – to seats in the Assembly and state Senate before being elected to his current post. With Gov. Andrew Cuomo praising Latimer as a “pragmatic progressive,” could a run for a statewide post – even, say, governor – be next?
3. Jamaal Bowman
In the previous election cycle, it was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This cycle, New York’s big upset of a sitting member of Congress was delivered by Jamaal Bowman, who beat Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary and coasted to victory in November. Bowman, a Black member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a former Bronx middle school principal, will represent a heavily Democratic district that covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester.
4. Mondaire Jones
Mondaire Jones mounted his race for Rep. Nita Lowey’s seat early, positioning himself as a progressive alternative to the longtime incumbent. Then, when she announced her retirement, Jones faced a number of well-financed and experienced candidates – and still emerged as the victor in the June Democratic primary. Now he’ll be representing the Rockland and Westchester district in Washington, as one of the first openly gay Black members of Congress.
5. Mike Spano
The Spanos have a long history as a powerful political family, and its most high-profile member is now Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. As the mayor of one of the biggest cities in the state, Spano served in the Assembly for two decades, helping to craft the New York State School Tax Relief program, or STAR, as well as the property tax cap. As mayor since 2012, he has been a champion of local business development.
6. Shelley Mayer
Chair, State Senate Education Committee
It’s no surprise that state Sen. Shelley Mayer was tasked with leading the Education Committee, which deals on a regular basis with intricate budget formulas and hot-button policy issues. Before being elected to the Senate in 2018, she chaired an Assembly subcommittee on special education and served as chief counsel for the Senate Democrats. One of her top goals is to boost the state’s education budget.
7. Marsha Gordon
President and CEO, Business Council of Westchester
Westchester County is working to recover from coronavirus pandemic-induced economic pain, and Marsha Gordon of the Business Council of Westchester is on the front lines of that fight. In recent months, she has led the Westchester Economic Recovery Task Force to survey businesses and strategize on reopening plans. In a bid to prevent public sector layoffs, she has urged the White House to approve aid for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and local governments.
8. Leonard Schleifer
Co-Founder, President and CEO, Regeneron
Leonard Schleifer’s Tarrytown-based biopharmaceutical company is a pivotal player in the race to develop COVID-19 treatments. Regeneron got $450 million in federal funding to pursue its experimental antibody cocktail drug this summer, and its stock soared after President Donald Trump received the treatment. Another reason Schleifer can celebrate? The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Regeneron’s first-of-its-kind Ebola treatment. The only bad news was that his son, Adam Schleifer, lost his congressional primary bid.
9. Mimi Rocah
Westchester County District Attorney-elect
Mimi Rocah is the latest in a wave of progressive candidates in the state seeking to win district attorney offices, which have wide latitude to shape local prosecutorial practices – and, by extension, policing reforms. And with her Democratic primary win over Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino and an easy general election victory, the former MSNBC analyst and former federal prosecutor will aim to make the office more transparent.
10. Arvind Krishna
Arvind Krishna stepped into big shoes at IBM in April when Virginia “Ginni” Rometty announced that she would retire at the end of 2020. Previously the senior vice president in charge of cloud and cognitive software, Krishna led the landmark acquisition of the open source software firm Red Hat in 2019. He is the first technologist to run the company and seems set to steer it toward a “hybrid cloud” horizon.
11. Ed Domingo
President and Chief Operating Officer, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts
Casino and hospitality veteran Ed Domingo was promoted from within to run Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts in January. Before the pandemic, he called on the state to lift its moratorium on new casino licenses in order to expand the facility – a potentially lucrative endeavor for both parties. After a six-month closure, MGM rehired more than half of its 1,200 workers in September, and Domingo says his top priority is keeping everyone healthy.
12. Noam Bramson
New Rochelle Mayor
When New Rochelle emerged as the first coronavirus hot spot in New York, Mayor Noam Bramson provided updates to constituents and brought the community together. Bramson, who has been mayor since 2006, coordinated with state and county officials on putting in place the containment zone in March and ramped up testing of residents. He also launched an initiative encouraging constituents to support local businesses.
13. Ken Jenkins
Westchester Deputy County Executive
It’s not exactly Abraham Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” but after Ken Jenkins lost to George Latimer in the Democratic primary for county executive in 2017, Latimer ultimately brought on Jenkins as his No. 2. Jenkins, a former chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, has worked on boosting contracting for women- and minority-owned businesses. He has also been a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
14. Lawrence Schwartz
Chief Strategy Officer, OTG
Lawrence Schwartz is the chief strategy officer for airport hospitality group OTG. And though he left his job as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide in 2015, these days he’s spending lots of time working for the governor by helping manage the state’s response to COVID-19. Schwartz pushed private hospitals to comply with new inventory reporting standards and increase bed capacity early on in the outbreak.
15. Benjamin Boykin
Chair, Westchester County Board of Legislators
Benjamin Boykin was reelected as chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators in January. And thanks to a good working relationship with Democratic Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Boykin is in a strong position. The veteran legislator, who represents White Plains, Scarsdale and Harrison, has shepherded through legislation responding to the coronavirus that eases the burden on taxpayers and caps food delivery app fees.
16. Joan McDonald
Director of Operations, Westchester County
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first transportation commissioner Joan McDonald played a key role in the project to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge with the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties. These days she’s focused solely on Westchester as County Executive George Latimer’s director of operations, which entails managing the county’s budget, departments and 4,000 employees.
17. Edwin Quezada
Superintendent, Yonkers Public Schools
Superintendent Edwin Quezada reopened Yonkers’ public schools for in-person learning in October, a month after classes had gotten underway remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Quezada has been in the public eye while addressing public health concerns in the schools and online access for students learning from home. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Quezada has been applauded for his leadership and had his contract extended earlier this year.
18. Amy Paulin
Chair, Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions
With nearly two decades in the Assembly under her belt, Amy Paulin is a lawmaker who’s got a hand in many of the biggest issues. This year the Scarsdale resident sponsored a measure allowing gestational surrogacy, prodded the governor into allowing more time on school district budget votes due to the coronavirus pandemic, and pushed for more judicial discretion in the state’s bail laws.
19. Thomas Roach
White Plains Mayor
White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach has overseen a growing city since taking office in 2011, while also keeping property tax increases below the state-mandated cap. This year, the city budget was set to add five police officers and three firefighters, the first such hires in years. And while White Plains wasn’t as hard hit as nearby cities early on, Roach has been proactive in providing updates and assistance to local residents.
20. Ramon Laguarta
Chair and CEO, PepsiCo Inc.
Two years into the job, Ramon Laguarta is keeping the Purchase-based food and beverage company hurtling forward with big investments, including a $3.86 billion acquisition of Rockstar Energy and the release of a "sleep enhancement" water, Driftwell. COVID-19 lockdowns hit sales early this year, but third-quarter revenue shows sales later grew as more people snacked at home.A native of Barcelona, Laguarta is the first Spanish CEO of a large American company.
21. Andre Rainey
When Andre Rainey began his second term in January, he boasted of a record $14 million in grants to the small city over two years. For a politician who’s made headlines for getting elected at a young age and for his nickname – “Noodle” – it shows the substance behind his reputation as a rising star. An entrepreneur, he has also touted downtown revitalization and staying within the state’s property tax cap.
22. Sandy Galef
Chair, Assembly Real Property Tax Committee
Assembly Member Sandy Galef chairs the Real Property Tax Committee, which carries a lot of weight in the suburbs where property taxes are a perennial political issue. On another hot-button issue, Galef spearheaded efforts to ease the economic blow of the decommissioning of the Indian Point nuclear plant. She also spoke out against a proposed merger of the New York state Bridge Authority with the state Thruway Authority.
23. Timothy Cawley
President-Elect, Con Edison of New York
Tim Cawley has risen through the ranks at one of the county’s largest employers since 1987. Previously head of subsidiary Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc., Cawley will become CEO and president of the parent corporation in January. Dubbed “an innovator in the clean energy and renewable space” by his predecessor, John McAvoy, Cawley moves up as Gov. Andrew Cuomo cracks down on utilities that fail to restore power quickly after storms.
24. Nick Spano
Founder and President, Empire Strategic Planning
Former state legislator Nick Spano’s influence at the state Capitol didn’t end when his last term ended in 2006. Nor did it disappear when he served time in prison for tax evasion. Through his lobbying firm, Spano remains a force behind Westchester-based organizations, shaping health care policy at the state level and representing organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. He also chairs the board at Richmond Community Services, a Yonkers program for people with disabilities.
25. Thomas Gleason
Public Safety Commissioner, Westchester County
Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason has had his hands full since taking the top post in 2018. The Yonkers native, who has spent his entire career in the department, has cracked down on everything from drug dealing to domestic violence to drag racing. He’s also a member of the county’s task force on police reform and is monitoring the risks posed by the coronavirus.
26. J. Gary Pretlow
Chair, Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow, who has represented his Yonkers and Mount Vernon district since 1992, is the Democratic conference’s point person on gambling legislation. He played a role in the legalization of casinos in New York and has pushed for the local Empire City Casino to be allowed to become a full-fledged commercial casino. Pretlow also serves on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.
27. Suzanne Berger
Chair, Westchester Democratic Party
When Suzanne Berger was elected to lead the Westchester Democrats in September, she took over a party apparatus on a winning streak. With candidates like Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman and Mimi Rocah breaking through this year, the only question is how far to the left Berger can take the party. Berger ran a strong race of her own, beating Bill Serratore, who some saw as the frontrunner.
28. Ross Pepe
President, Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley
Construction industry advocate Ross Pepe represents 600 businesses and more than 30,000 employees as head of both the Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley and the Building Contractors Association of Westchester and Mid-Hudson. Pepe wrote in The Journal News that New York’s economic recovery and “long-term health” hinges on infrastructure projects like the proposed Route 17 expansion in Orange and Sullivan counties, which could increase tourism to the entire region, including Westchester.
29. Michael Israel
President and CEO, WMCHealth
Michael Israel has led the Valhalla-based Westchester Medical Center Health Network, or WMCHealth, comprising 10 hospitals throughout the Hudson Valley, since 2005. A telemedicine program launched under his leadership in 2015 was ramped up this spring, providing a lifeline for thousands of patients as the region became a coronavirus epicenter. Israel is now directing a recovery program for patients who had COVID-19, which is one of the first of its kind in the nation.
30. Timothy Jones
CEO, Robert Martin Company
Timothy Jones is at the helm of Westchester County’s leading real estate developer. Robert Martin Company boasts a largely suburban portfolio of more than 6 million square feet. That includes last year’s historic $487.5 million buyback of 3.1 million square feet of commercial buildings in Greenburgh, Hawthorne and Yonkers from Mack-Cali Realty Corp. The acquisition could pave the way for the Greenburgh-based firm to develop life sciences properties.
31. Susan Fox
President and CEO, White Plains Hospital
When the state’s first known coronavirus outbreak emerged in Westchester County, Susan Fox and others were quick to act. Fox’s White Plains Hospital opened a hotline to communicate updates and connect people with health care providers. The hospital expanded its bed capacity by 50%, allowing it to accept transfer patients from nearby hospitals. And Fox oversaw the use of $74 million in federal aid from two CARES Act distributions, which helped treat an influx of coronavirus patients.
32. Rich Bamberger
Managing Director, Kivvit
Kivvit is known for its Cuomo administration allies: Maggie Moran, Josh Vlasto – and of course Richard Bamberger, the governor’s first communications director, who has been with Kivvit since 2012. Bamberger, who also had an accomplished career as a television journalist and worked for Andrew Cuomo in the attorney general’s office, is now a sought-after consultant for companies needing assistance with crisis management or media relations.
33. Martin Ginsburg
Founder and Principal, Ginsburg Development Cos.
Residential real estate developer and architect Martin Ginsburg’s work can be found in every corner of the county, from luxury apartments in Yonkers and Ossining to the mixed-use “City Square” project in White Plains. The octogenarian’s latest project is the newly renovated Abbey Inn & Spa in Peekskill, overlooking the Hudson River. The 42-room inn, spa and restaurant opened in March following a $22 million renovation of a historic former convent.
34. Cristyne Nicholas & George Lence
CEO; President, Nicholas & Lence Communications
Cristyne Nicholas and George Lence each have their niche – Nicholas handles communications while Lence leads lobbying efforts at their firm, where they represent clients like Empire City Casino and the City of New Rochelle. Veterans of New York City’s tourism agency NYC & Co., they continue to be critical assets in the region and state. Nicholas plays a key role in the state’s reopening strategy as chair of the state Tourism Advisory Council and Lence serves as vice chair of the Business Council of Westchester.
35. Belinda Miles
President, Westchester Community College
As a member of the governor’s NY Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board, Belinda Miles has shepherded the largest college in Westchester County through the disruption caused by COVID-19. Under her leadership, most students are taking online classes this fall, and the school implemented mandatory, free COVID-19 testing for employees and students who returned to use facilities in person. Miles also serves on the board of the Business Council of Westchester.
36. Mark Weingarten
Partner, DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr
Power broker Mark Weingarten shapes commercial and residential real estate deals, land use and politics as an attorney and lobbyist. He has acted as lead counsel in connection with development projects worth billions throughout the Hudson Valley, including the controversial expansion of a children’s rehabilitation facility in New Castle. A key Democratic donor, he has also served as counsel and executive director for the Westchester County Democratic Committee.
37. Shannon Powell
Co-Founder, Westchester Indivisible
When Indivisible arose as a movement alarmed by the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016, the Westchester branch quickly made its mark. The group, which counts Shannon Powell as a founder and one of its leaders, played a role in George Latimer’s victory over then-County Executive Rob Astorino in 2017, in key legislative races in 2018, and in helping power Mondaire Jones to a historical congressional win this year.
38. John Fareri
President and CEO, Fareri Associates
John Fareri is behind North 60, a $1.2 billion biotech center that is part of a broader effort to capitalize on Westchester’s research infrastructure to build out a thriving life sciences hub. Fareri’s design and development firm, Fareri Associates, has a number of developments in Westchester and nearby Connecticut. John Fareri and his wife, Brenda, are also the benefactors behind the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
39. Deb Milone
President, Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce
With COVID-19 dampening economic activity and forcing small businesses to shutter, Deb Milone’s work at the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce is more critical than ever. “Both small business and major retailers have struggled to maintain customers and continue operations,” she said recently. “Sadly, some businesses have closed, but we have also seen new businesses opening.” With over a decade at the organization, Milone is well positioned to help drive a rebound.
40. John Ravitz
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, The Business Council of Westchester
While Marsha Gordon does an exceptional job leading the Business Council of Westchester and serving as its public face, she relies on John Ravitz to oversee the operations of the organization. A former member of the Assembly who represented a Manhattan district in the 1990s and early 2000s but now lives in Pelham, Ravitz is tasked with executing the council’s pro-business legislative strategy in the county and in Albany.
41. Thomas Carey
President, Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body
Thomas Carey wears a lot of hats: He’s a business agent for the UA Local 21 plumbers and steamfitters union, a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, and serves on the Indian Point Closure Task Force. But his most important role is with the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body, which represents 150,000 members in Westchester and Putnam counties – and whose work has been critical during the coronavirus pandemic.
42. Mayo Bartlett & Leroy Frazer
Co-Chairs, Westchester County Police Reform and Reinvention Task Force
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Westchester County Executive George Latimer appointed two distinguished legal professionals – Mayo Bartlett and Leroy Frazer – to co-chair a new county task force on police reform. Bartlett, a civil rights attorney based in White Plains, already had a public profile as a legal analyst on television and in print media. Frazer, a consultant, was a senior prosecutor under legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and went on to help shape groundbreaking reforms in the Brooklyn DA’s office until his 2018 retirement. Frazer was also named a co-chair of Westchester County District Attorney-elect Mimi Rocah’s transition team.
43. Carola Otero Bracco
Executive Director, Neighbors Link
Carola Otero Bracco is the daughter of immigrants from Bolivia, and in 2004 she pivoted from the corporate sector to take the reins of Neighbors Link, a nonprofit serving Westchester’s immigrant community. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bracco’s organization has put a priority on providing food, legal support and ongoing online trainings. She is also a proponent of dual-language education.
44. Robert Weisz
President and CEO, RPW Group
The long-term impact of COVID-19 on the commercial real estate market is a critical question for RPW Group’s Robert Weisz, whose largely suburban portfolio of office properties could be in greater demand as workers seek to avoid dense urban centers. At any rate, Weisz has continued to expand RPW Group’s portfolio in Westchester, most notably with the construction of 303 new apartments now underway along the “Platinum Mile.”
45. Edward Doyle
President and Treasurer, Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties
Edward Doyle’s labor umbrella group, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties, is made up of unions that collectively represent more than 30,000 construction workers. A proponent of preapprenticeship programs and partnerships, Doyle has battled against nonunion contractors and pressured elected officials to award public contracts that require a unionized workforce. His endorsement is also sought after in local elections.
46. Kathie Davidson
District Administrative Judge, New York State 9th Judicial District
Kathie Davidson made history in 2018 when she became the first Black administrative judge in the state’s 9th Judicial District, which includes Westchester and several other counties in the Hudson Valley. In her administrative role, Davidson supervises the courts in her jurisdiction. She previously served as a Westchester family court judge, and over a decade ago she became the first Black supervising family courts judge in the district.
47. Kevin Cacace
President, Yonkers Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Cacace leads the chamber of commerce for Yonkers, one of New York’s largest cities, at a critical time, as a recent uptick in coronavirus cases puts further stress on local businesses. Cacace faces another COVID-19 challenge as well as a member of the Yonkers Board of Education, which has been grappling with the best way to educate students safely this fall. Cacace also chairs the board’s facilities committee.
48. Scott Hayworth
President and CEO, CareMount Medical
CareMount Medical adapted quickly to COVID-19 with a pivot to telehealth. “During the COVID-19 peak, CareMount was conducting about 1,500 telehealth visits per day, compared with times prior to the pandemic, when it was conducting six per day,” Scott Hayworth told Westchester Magazine. Hayworth has overseen steady growth over two decades running CareMount Medical, which has 650 providers in more than 45 locations in the Hudson Valley and New York City.
49. Mark McLean
President, NAACP New Rochelle Branch
When Mark McLean was sworn in to lead the NAACP’s New Rochelle branch in 2019, he was joined by two fellow Black trailblazers in Westchester – state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Judge Kathie Davidson. This year, McLean has called on state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the fatal police shooting of Kamal Flowers. McLean is a minister and a lieutenant with the New Rochelle Fire Department.
50. Natasha Caputo
Director, Westchester County Tourism & Film
As Westchester County eased COVID-related restrictions in the summer, Natasha Caputo said her office is “eager to help jump-start film production” in the county – a popular location for the entertainment industry – and touted the area’s outdoor dining, shopping and ice cream offerings. Caputo, who has led Westchester County Tourism & Film since 2011, oversaw a 2019 boom in production that included high-profile films such as “The Irishman.”