Change is afoot in New York City. The rise of Mayor Eric Adams marks a return to the political center, with his tougher line on crime, embrace of the city’s business class and hiring of advisers and commissioners from across the ideological spectrum. In Albany, which has the final say over countless policies governing the five boroughs, Gov. Kathy Hochul has quickly consolidated power following the downfall of her predecessor. And while progressives failed to install one of their own at City Hall, they did propel New York City Comptroller Brad Lander into office while also playing a key role in electing the first female majority in the New York City Council.
City & State’s New York City Power 100 – written in partnership with journalist Aaron Short – identifies the political leaders whose fortunes have been favored through these times of transition. Nearly a third of the people in the 2022 edition of this ranking are making their debut, including politicians elected to new offices as well as members of the administration and allies of City Hall who are capitalizing on the changing political order. The list also identifies veteran lawmakers, seasoned lobbyists, longtime labor leaders and other influential players who continue to shape the direction of New York City.
New York City’s 110th mayor had a swagger-filled start to his tenure at City Hall, whether it was reporting an assault during his subway commute, vowing to keep schools open, imploring businesses to return to their offices or providing assistance to households grieving after a deadly Bronx fire – and that was just his first week. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former state senator and Brooklyn borough president, has the political savvy and institutional support to succeed as mayor and – so far – to speed past his gaffes. The former police officer has made fighting crime a top priority and recently welcomed President Joe Biden to New York to discuss how to combat gun violence.
While New York CIty Mayor Eric Adams has plenty of momentum as the city’s top elected official, he still has to travel to Albany to try to secure key policy changes. In mid-February, he met in person with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie but failed to come away with an agreement to scale back the state’s bail reforms, which the mayor has made a top priority as he seeks to crack down on crime. Heastie, a longtime power broker in the Bronx, and Westchester’s Stewart-Cousins both represent sizable downstate contingents as they respond to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $216 billion budget and finalize redistricting maps that give Democrats a considerable edge.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, the state’s first female governor, had a smooth ascension, scoring a 50% approval rating among voters about three months after she was sworn into office. But Hochul has also deftly handled a series of crises, including flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida and recalcitrant health care workers refusing vaccine mandates. She has also become a fundraising juggernaut, hauling in $21.6 million for her reelection, as state Attorney General Letitia James and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ultimately opted against challenging her. Next, she’ll look to pass her $216 billion budget.
The New York City Council’s first Black female speaker wrapped up the monthslong race in mid-December after multiple rivals dropped out and endorsed her. Adrienne Adams secured the influential post despite New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ efforts to install another candidate. She now leads a body that for the first time is majority women. The Southeast Queens lawmaker promised to work with the mayor on public safety issues and combating COVID-19, but she has already asserted her independence, staking out positions such as opposing solitary confinement at Rikers Island.
Keechant Sewell, the former Nassau County chief of detectives, was an unexpected choice to run the New York City Police Department, beating out internal candidates and Seattle and Philadelphia police brass. But Sewell’s emotional intelligence impressed New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police sergeant who made the Queens native the police department’s first female commissioner. Sewell’s mandate is to lower crime amid a spate of violent subway incidents and she has already pressured Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg into scaling back some progressive criminal justice policies.
New York’s senior senator has racked up endorsements from major labor unions, a sign that he’ll avoid a threat from the left – despite rumors that progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might challenge him. But U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s days are anything but rosy. Despite holding a slim majority and securing an early win with a federal infrastructure measure that’s delivering $11 billion for New York transit systems, the Senate leader has failed to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill and voting rights protections.
The Washington Heights legislator still holds out hope that the other Washington would make headway on a social spending bill that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. But Rep. Adriano Espaillat has been frustrated by Washington’s inaction on immigration reform, voting rights and climate change. Back home, Espaillat has welcomed the mayor’s attention to gun violence and huddled with him on fire safety issues after a shooting left two police officers dead in Harlem and smoke from a deadly blaze killed 17 Bronx residents.
State Attorney General Letitia James lowered the boom against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo when she found his administration deliberately undercounted nursing home deaths. But she delivered a “kill shot” – as one New York politico put it – when she ordered an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the former governor. Once Cuomo resigned, James was seen as a gubernatorial front-runner. But her campaign never got off the ground, and she dropped out in December. Now, James is focused on investigating fraud within The Trump Organization and compelling the former president and his children to cooperate with her probe.
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander’s surprising victory was one of the few bright spots for progressives in last year’s Democratic primary elections, as he managed to fend off several candidates, including former Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Lander, a former Park Slope council member, vowed to be a check on the mayor’s power when he promised to “audit the hell” out of the city’s agencies. He already opposed the mayor’s plan to ask the state to increase the city’s borrowing power by $19 billion and is planning an environmental justice audit.
The Fort Greene representative is expected to become the next Democratic House speaker whenever Nancy Pelosi, the current House speaker, retires, but that could take a while if Republicans take control of the House in November. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has been laying the groundwork for years to succeed Pelosi and has chastised the far left for “talking trash” about mainstream Democrats. Jeffries’ preferred candidate didn’t win the New York City mayoral race, but he insisted Mayor Eric Adams was his second choice.
The Astoria politico briefly contemplated running for state attorney general before state Attorney General Letitia James withdrew her bid for governor. But state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris’ plate is overflowing. His bill to track the origins of guns used in crimes was signed into law, he nudged Gov. Kathy Hochul to reconsider the LaGuardia AirTrain route and defended the state’s bail reform law against GOP scare tactics. Gianaris also denied that state Democrats engaged in gerrymandering despite putting forth new proposed districts that would give the party a leg up in Congress.
The iconic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has paved the way for a flood of Democratic candidates who are women, people of color or don’t have the traditional credentials to run for office – and win. The rumors that she might run against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer haven’t panned out, although fear of an attack from the left may have pushed him into courting her fellow progressives. She has also clashed with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whose rise reflects a return to the political center by some New York Democrats.
Rep. Gregory Meeks could become an unexpected thorn in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ side after showing he can adapt to political winds. The Queens Democratic chair whiffed when he endorsed Ray McGuire for mayor but struck gold when he joined progressive City Council members to back Adrienne Adams and block the mayor’s pick for speaker. However, Meeks denied cutting a deal with them after getting pushback from pro-Israel activists who oppose the Democratic Socialists of America. Meeks pledged to work with the mayor on federal investment in public housing and gun violence.
The Upper East Side representative was thrilled when her former tenant, Gov. Kathy Hochul, became the state’s first female executive. She’ll have her ear on all matters, especially after working with Congress to pass the infrastructure law that will help pay for an extension of the Second Avenue subway. Rep. Carolyn Maloney wisely stayed out of the New York City mayoral race and has been assessing whether federal intervention could be needed to stem escalating violence on Rikers Island.
The Brooklyn representative has served dual roles in Congress as a leading voice for Puerto Rico’s interests in Capitol Hill and as a matriarch nurturing progressive millennials at all levels of elected office. Rep. Nydia Velázquez helped a cadre of City Council candidates win their races and hit the campaign trail with city Comptroller Brad Lander and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, boosting their candidacies. Her mayoral bet for Maya Wiley didn’t work out, but she sternly reminded Mayor Eric Adams to treat everyone with respect after he lashed out at leftists.
Jumaane Williams easily dispatched three opponents in November to win another term as New York City public advocate, but he dreams of occupying a much higher office. About two weeks after the election, the Flatbush Democrat announced he would run for New York governor in a rematch against Gov. Kathy Hochul. Williams previously faced off against her in the 2018 lieutenant governor race and seems likely to fall short once again. Williams trailed Hochul by 35 percentage points in a January Siena College poll and raised only $222,000 to Hochul’s $21.6 million.
After three years leading the New York City Council’s land use committee, Rafael Salamanca Jr. contemplated running for Bronx borough president. Instead, he stuck to the council and ran for reelection as talk of his bona fides for speaker grew louder. He didn’t run for speaker either, as Salamanca was content to remain in his influential role overseeing rezonings. As Land Use Committee chair, he’s been instrumental in requiring the city to consider the racial impact of zoning and helped the council advance a controversial plan to redevelop the New York Blood Center.
After Bill de Blasio left office as New York City mayor, the New York Post, Fox News and other conservative media outlets turned their ire toward Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for telling prosecutors in a memo to only seek jail time for serious offenses. That irked the city’s police commissioner, who questioned his strategy, while business leaders blamed Bragg for the perception the city is unsafe. Bragg said he mishandled the policy rollout and stood by his principle allowing low-level offenders to avoid imprisonment, but ultimately revised his policies to continue aggressively responding to gun crimes and attacks on police officers.
The city’s municipal workers union turned heads when it endorsed Mayor Eric Adams and spent $1 million to help him win the primary. But the union got more than they bargained for. Henry Garrido sought a remote-work option from former Mayor Bill de Blasio and hoped Adams would change policy as the omicron variant spread. But Adams has been adamant about encouraging New Yorkers to return to their offices. And he ordered city agencies to absorb 3% cuts after Bill de Blasio increased the municipal workforce to record levels.
Mayor Eric Adams may have wanted to appoint Rep. Tom Suozzi as deputy mayor, but he couldn’t have picked a more experienced candidate than Lorraine Grillo. The city’s COVID-19 recovery czar wowed Adams with her mastery of city bureaucracy honed from her years leading the city School Construction Authority. Grillo will lead a team of four deputy mayors and essentially run the day-to-day operations of a city with about 330,000 employees.
The Mill Basin attorney cut his teeth as a legal adviser for the Brooklyn Democratic Party before Mayor Eric Adams tapped him as his personal attorney and campaign counsel for his mayoral run. With victory in hand, Frank Carone helped Adams form his administration and Adams rewarded his years of loyalty by naming Carone his chief of staff. Carone has faced scrutiny for his past work representing landlords doing business with the city while he fundraised for then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. But Adams has defended Carone and his other administration picks.
There is perhaps no one in New York City closer to Mayor Eric Adams than Ingrid Lewis-Martin. The Brooklyn native calls herself Adams’ “sister ordained by God” and has been his gatekeeper and sounding board in Albany and Borough Hall, having served as deputy Brooklyn borough president and campaign adviser to Adams. Lewis-Martin is part of a triumvirate with the mayor and Frank Carone that run the city.
Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly insisted there’s no conflict between him and the head of the city’s teachers’ union, Michael Mulgrew, over his decision to keep schools open amid a COVID-19 surge. But Mulgrew has a fine line to walk. He has been careful not to criticize Adams while requesting schools go remote. That approach – and the fact that many teachers and students missed classes during the spike in cases – allowed the schools chancellor to seriously examine the possibility of a remote option.
The former Eagle Academy leader has long had Mayor Eric Adams’ ear on education policy. Once he was named the city’s schools chancellor, David Banks made waves, pledging to shake up the department’s bureaucracy and promising to help students of color become more proficient in math and reading. Even though Adams has been adamant about keeping schools open despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, Banks has been amenable toward providing a remote learning option for students in some instances.
When Mayor Eric Adams needed someone to help form his administration, he made the “Wright” call. The United Way of New York City’s Sheena Wright took the helm of Adams’ transition team in August to identify and recruit impressive leaders. Wright landed a plum role herself, joining four other women as deputy mayors. She’s now the point person for determining the city’s long-term goals – and as the partner of schools Chancellor David Banks, she’s part of the most powerful power couple at City Hall.
The health care workers’ union leader may have misfired in the Democratic mayoral primary by endorsing Maya Wiley. But George Gresham, the president of 1199SEIU, still earned a key to the city from then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, after helping him become mayor and accomplish universal pre-K years ago. Gresham’s biggest fight has been opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for his members, but the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld such mandates. Now, Gresham is lobbying for state and city officials to invest more in the health care workforce.
One of the few holdovers from the de Blasio administration, Mitchell Katz has kept New York City’s public hospitals running through another winter COVID-19 surge which caused a quarter of its staff to call out sick in early January. Katz will soon get more resources to fight public health crises after Mayor Eric Adams pledged $111 million to expand staffing levels and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand secured $35 million to bolster the hospital system’s public health corps. A team of military doctors and National Guard troops have come to help too. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashwin Vasan’s work leading Fountain House, a national mental health nonprofit, impressed Adams enough to name him the city’s next health commissioner. Vasan, a Columbia University professor, will succeed Dr. Dave Chokshi, who is staying in the role through March to guide the city through the COVID-19 surge. An epidemiologist by training, Vasan will look to address inequities in the city’s health system, especially when it comes to providing mental health services.
A former Harlem Children’s Zone executive and Fordham University professor, Anne Williams-Isom is bringing a surfeit of experience in child welfare and health to City Hall. So far, she has been preoccupied supporting the city’s approach to the COVID-19 winter surge. The new deputy mayor has had to balance her boss’ entreaties to businesses to bring their workers back to the offices with a highly transmissible omicron variant that filled up hospitals and strained the health care system.
Few labor leaders are as well positioned to wield influence in the next administration as Kyle Bragg. His building workers union endorsed Mayor Eric Adams in the Democratic mayoral primary, and he was named a co-chair of the mayor’s transition committee, giving him a say over hiring across agencies. Bragg was also a backer of City Council Member Adrienne Adams’ successful council speaker bid and whipped votes for her when other candidates failed to catch fire. Now, he’s joining other labor leaders to lower hospital prices for their members.
The Queens representative has been a leading voice condemning violence against Asian Americans after the number of anti-Asian hate crime complaints in New York City more than tripled last year. Rep. Grace Meng authored legislation that compelled the U.S. Department of Justice to speed up review of crimes against Asian Americans. She’s also brought forward bills requiring Asian American history be taught in schools and establishing a new national museum dedicated to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The city’s leading private sector advocate has a mayor she can work with after clashing with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. Kathryn Wylde spoke with Mayor Eric Adams soon after the primary to discuss improving City Hall’s relationship with corporate leaders. Since then, Adams formed a Corporate Council to shape his administration’s priorities and added Wylde to his transition committee. Wylde was hopeful that Adams would take measures to lower crime and keep campaign promises, but remained concerned that the rising trend of remote work would hollow out Manhattan’s business districts.
Criminal justice reformers have put district attorneys in the spotlight in recent years, elevating progressives into office and putting pressure on incumbents to adopt policies to reduce incarceration. Among the national leaders in implementing reforms is Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who was briefly mentioned as a possible candidate for state attorney general when it looked like the state office would come open. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark have also adopted reforms, such as scaling back marijuana arrests, while Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon is the relative moderate of the bunch. The city’s district attorneys recently met with President Joe Biden to discuss how to combat gun violence.
A month after he was confirmed as the first Black U.S. Attorney to lead the Southern District, Damian Williams announced he would create a civil rights unit within the criminal division to prosecute hate crime attacks and white supremacist criminal activity. His office has also inherited several high-profile cases, including probes of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine, and secured a conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell, who faced charges of sex trafficking minors.
Retirement rumors swirled around Rep. Jerry Nadler in November, but the veteran representative has shown no sign of slowing down. He orchestrated a quick impeachment of President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and spearheaded an effort to expand the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nadler’s pet infrastructure project, a cross-harbor freight tunnel, is also getting renewed attention from Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Suri Kasirer didn’t waste any time developing a rapport with new administrations in Albany and City Hall. The indomitable lobbyist contacted then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers last spring on behalf of a cannabis dispensary client after the state legalized recreational marijuana. Kasirer also maintained her dominance in the city, as her firm hauled in $14.2 million in compensation in 2020. Her eponymous firm continues to rake in the most cash compared with the rest of the city’s lobbying firms, and her clients include heavyweights in real estate, finance and media.
One of the top lobbying firms both in New York City and in Albany is Bolton-St. Johns. Emily Giske, a senior partner, has long been the firm’s public face while establishing it as a powerhouse in both cities as well as in Washington, D.C. A more behind-the-scenes presence, Michael Keogh brings invaluable experience, having served as the New York City Council’s finance director and as legislative counsel for District Council 37. Juanita Scarlett, a partner at the firm since 2019, also has a wealth of state government and lobbying experience.
Editor’s note: Juanita Scarlett is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
The Jan. 6 insurrection traumatized members of Congress, and Rep. Yvette Clarke wants answers. As chair of the House subcommittee focused on cybersecurity, Clarke has promoted legislation to get federal officials to track misinformation and disinformation after former President Donald Trump’s unproven election fraud claims in 2020. The Brooklyn representative also has argued for federal election reforms as well as for New York Democrats to counter any moves Republicans make in other states to gerrymander congressional districts.
Maria Torres-Springer is no stranger to City Hall, having led the city’s economic development arm as well as its small business and housing agencies over the past seven years. Now, the civic heavyweight will get a crack at overseeing multiple agencies at once as one of Adams’ deputy mayors, joining four other women in the mayor’s inner circle. She’s already looking at how to expedite the city’s economic recovery and reduce fines for mom and pop businesses.
It came later than expected, but Jessica Katz’s appointment as chief housing officer means it’ll be up to her to add more affordable housing across the five boroughs. She’ll oversee several agencies, including the New York City Housing Authority as well as the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will be led by former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. – and which is where Katz once served as the associate commissioner for new construction. Katz previously led the nonprofit Citizens Housing & Planning Council.
The veteran political consultant is part of the Hotel Trades Council’s brain trust that convinced the New York City Council and the New York City mayor to pass a zoning measure restricting construction of new hotels. Neal Kwatra also ran HTC’s independent expenditure supporting Eric Adams’ mayoral campaign and has been an incisive analyst examining Bill de Blasio’s mayoral legacy, Hochul’s challenges and Adams’ first week on the job in the press.
Errol Louis’ Chelsea Market television studio has been the New York political world’s living room for the past decade and an obligatory stop for the mayor to explain his rationale for an array of new policies. But Louis also used his platform to combat disinformation on the coronavirus pandemic, with guests such as city health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, and extended his reach across the city’s media landscape with a must-read column in New York magazine and a recurring gig as a political analyst with CNN.
The trade association largely stayed out of the New York City mayoral race, even as its top foes lost and several developers backed the eventual winner. James Whelan instead sought to convince the city to repurpose vacant offices and hotels for housing and more recently pressed the mayor about the importance of safely bringing workers back to the office. Whelan also lobbied Gov. Kathy Hochul to preserve a tax break that incentivized affordable housing construction and was pleased with her proposed tweaks to the law.
What a difference $6 billion makes. The MTA received the “largest federal grant in transit history” in January, prompting Janno Lieber to postpone any consideration of subway fare increases in 2022. Lieber, whom Hochul nominated to run the authority officially in January, should have more independence to make decisions about the MTA’s future. And he’ll have several exciting projects to tackle thanks to the governor’s support for a new Interborough Express route and for the extension of the Second Avenue subway line to 125th Street.
The Port Authority continues to advance some of the biggest infrastructure projects in New York City. The $8 billion overhaul of LaGuardia Airport, which is being billed as the first new major airport in the country in a quarter century, is on track to be largely completed this year, while an $18 billion overhaul of JFK International Airport is in the works. Yet the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain is stalled, as Gov. Kathy Hochul halted the $2.1 billion monorail to review alternative options. Another AirTrain could be on the table after Rick Cotton said the agency would use outside experts to review the proposal.
The building trades council endorsed Scott Stringer instead of Mayor Eric Adams in the city’s mayoral race and was slow to call for Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor. But Gary LaBarbera, who took hold of the state’s trades council in April, still got his goals accomplished. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a construction wage theft bill, established a new construction industry advisory group and announced a $9.5 billion plan to rebuild a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which LaBarbera celebrated.
Related’s $25 billion Hudson Yards, which opened in 2019, reshaped an entire Manhattan neighborhood. Like many of New York City’s leading real estate developers, Related’s Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau have also sought to shape New York’s political landscape. Ross set up a super PAC that undercut some progressive candidates for New York City Council last year, and he welcomed the ascendance of the relatively moderate and real estate-friendly Eric Adams to City Hall as mayor. Blau was behind a push to get Republicans to register as Democrats ahead of the mayoral primary. Blau also has expanded into the clean energy space, as his Clean Path New York renewable energy project was selected by city and state officials to advance to contract negotiations.
The city’s most prominent civil rights leader still plays kingmaker to Democratic politicians dreaming of a promotion. But the Rev. Al Sharpton has been stingy with endorsements in local races partly because of his affiliation with MSNBC. That hasn’t stopped a parade of Dems from attending the National Action Network events, including its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Sharpton still regularly holds public rallies condemning violence and delivers eulogies for those killed by police officers, while quietly supporting get-out-the-vote efforts like Show Up, Turn Out.
To the victor goes the spoils, and Red Horse Strategies is about to get a lot more business. Political savant Katie Moore joined the consulting firm after managing Mayor Eric Adams’ successful campaign and transition, while Nathan Smith and Matt Rey shaped Adams’ public safety-heavy strategy and appeal to mainstream Democratic voters. They missed their mark on picking the next City Council speaker, but are still well positioned based on how knowledgeable they are of City Hall’s wants and needs.
Mayor Eric Adams is known for talking off the cuff, but his tightly messaged campaign that centered on public safety was no coincidence. Pythia’s Evan Thies mapped out the mayor’s winning communications strategy and largely avoided gaffes, even when reporters descended upon Adams’ townhouse two weeks before the mayoral primary amid questions about his residency. In addition, Pythia co-founder Alexis Grenell penned several biting columns about former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failures and alleged sexual harassment.
The first Latino to lead CUNY has made it his mission to ensure his faculty is as diverse as the student body. Félix Matos Rodríguez has also secured $125 million in federal stimulus funds to forgive the debts of 50,000 CUNY students who suffered hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, invested $29 million into its Jamaica campus and served as co-chair on the mayor’s transition team. He has also overseen the implementation of a vaccine mandate and pushed for more in-person learning this semester.
An attorney for Mayor Eric Adams’ campaign, Vito R. Pitta has been a longtime member of the mayor’s inner circle. Vito Pitta provided legal advice and ensured that Adams and his team strictly followed city campaign rules while also repping labor groups like the Transport Workers Union on the side, as a co-managing member of the affiliated government relations firm PItta Bishop & Del Giorno, a top lobbying firm. He also played a role recruiting people to join the Adams’ administration and got a head start on that effort at the Somos conference in Puerto Rico.
The Hotel Trades Council lost its staunchest ally when Bill de Blasio left City Hall, but not before he rammed through a bill requiring severance pay for hotel workers and a zoning text amendment making it cumbersome to build new hotels. Rich Maroko argued that special permits will help protect unionized hotels after a wave of devastating job losses in the hospitality sector. His union is politically well positioned after endorsing Hochul for governor and seeing his former political director manage Mayor Eric Adams’ successful mayoral campaign.
Former Upper Manhattan City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez endorsed Eric Adams for New York City mayor during his campaign run last year. Both also memorably vowed to crack down on dirt bikes in the city. But Ydanis Rodriguez has far bigger aspirations now that he’s Adams’ transportation commissioner. A key Vision Zero supporter, Rodriguez declared his priority would be curtailing preventable traffic deaths and injuries by reinforcing half of the city’s plastic protected bike lanes and increasing the number of dedicated bus lanes. He already announced a plan to redesign dangerous intersections with raised crosswalks and upgraded traffic signals.
The former taxi and limousine commissioner joined the U.S. Department of Transportation last April to make trucks and buses safer. Meera Joshi was on track for U.S. Senate confirmation after a key panel advanced her nomination, but she chose to leave the Biden administration and returned to New York when Mayor Eric Adams offered her the job to run the city’s day-to-day operations. Joshi now oversees infrastructure and essential services and is the first point of contact whenever a crisis occurs.
The Bronx representative isn’t running for governor – as one perplexing New York Times op-ed suggested last year – but he has a bright political future. Rep. Ritchie Torres immediately spearheaded a federal review of building safety and introduced a package of bills mandating self-closing doors and safer space heaters after a deadly Bronx fire in January. Torres hasn’t been afraid to stand up to Washington’s top leaders, having called for a stock trading ban and for the federal government to intervene at Rikers Island.
The political consulting and lobbying firm has represented Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Microsoft and Uber as well as several professional sports leagues. But when New York’s Democratic hopefuls need a seasoned campaign pro to draw up a winning game plan, they call Harry Giannoulis. The Parkside leader may be the strategist most responsible for helping the state Senate turn and remain in Democratic hands. Now if he can only resolve Major League Baseball’s labor strife before opening day.
The police union leader, who consistently challenged Bill de Blasio on police reform, was pleased that a former cop would replace the former mayor. Patrick Lynch privately urged officers to rank Eric Adams in the mayoral primary for his stances on stop and frisk and the NYPD budget, and Lynch told Fox News he was optimistic about the new direction of the city. After a spate of gun violence that included the fatal shooting of two officers, Lynch commended Adams for restoring an anti-gun unit and visited the 32nd Precinct with him.
Philip Banks, another favorite of Mayor Eric Adams, had to wait a few extra weeks but finally got the job he had been promised. The former top police chief retired from the New York City Police Department in 2014 while subject to a federal investigation that ultimately found that he had taken extravagant gifts and trips with two of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s donors. Banks was never charged with a crime, a fact that Adams has emphasized when defending his appointee’s past.
The Bronx Democratic Party underwent a sea change when Marcos Crespo stepped down and handed the reins over to Jamaal Bailey. Now the Bronx’s City Council delegation is majority female, younger and significantly more progressive than in past years thanks to his efforts. Bailey hasn’t ignored his day job as a state senator either, spearheading legislation preventing prosecutors from charging children under the age of 12 with crimes and co-sponsoring a bill that would ban the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal court. Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s Democratic boss is celebrating the ascension of longtime ally Mayor Eric Adams, continuing close ties with City Hall that were cultivated during the de Blasio years as well. Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn has cut ties with her party’s youth arm last spring after clashing over candidate endorsements and calls to censure Andrew Cuomo. Adams, who had hired Bichotte Hermelyn’s husband as a campaign consultant, has defended her record as party leader.
To the victor go the spoils, and to those who drop out and get behind the victor go some of those spoils as well. New York City Council Members Diana Ayala, Gale Brewer, Justin Brannan and Keith Powers were all in the mix to become the next council speaker, but they exited the race together and collectively backed their colleague Adrienne Adams. When Adams prevailed over another rival, City Council Member Francisco Moya, the fearsome foursome got plum posts in the council – Ayala as deputy speaker, Brannan as finance chair, Powers as majority leader and Brewer as oversight and investigations chair.
When Mayor Eric Adams won the 2021 election, he said he would “get stuff done” and that it would be a “joy” not to worry about managing the budget. That unenviable task fell to Jacques Jiha, who was finance commissioner under Bill de Blasio. Jiha’s first assignment has been to order city agencies to trim their budgets by 3% after the city budget exceeded $100 billion for the first time last year. He emphasized the cuts shouldn’t result in layoffs, but a tense negotiation with a left-leaning City Council still awaits.
Union membership in New York state grew by about 68,000 last year, and the Communications Workers of America has been involved in some of labor’s most high-profile drives and negotiations locally, such as The New York Times’ tech staff unionization push. But Dennis Trainor has also sought union drives outside the media limelight, such as organizing AT&T workers across the state last year. Trainor also played a key role supporting striking hospital workers employed by Catholic Health in Buffalo.
The retail workers union may not have the mayor they wanted after siding with Scott Stringer in the primary, but that hasn’t really affected their goals. Stuart Appelbaum led a push to unionize Amazon warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama, despite Amazon’s tactics to thwart the drives. Appelbaum also nudged the City Council to pass legislation for labor peace agreements in establishments aided by the city and fought for safe working conditions in stores throughout the holiday season as the pandemic raged.
The prominent lobbyist and member of the Olori Sisterhood, a Brooklyn-based collective of Black women in politics, has been helping elect people to the highest rungs of power for more than a decade. Now it’s Tiffany Raspberry’s time to shine. After advising Eric Adams’ mayoral campaign (she has known Adams for years) and serving on his transition committee, Raspberry received a key post as the top liaison between City Hall as well as national and global leaders.
Anthony Constantinople and Perry Vallone regularly navigate the complicated bureaucratic offices within city government and the City Council’s often warring factions to get what their clients want. The influential government relations consultants bundled a combined $40,500 for mayoral candidates and City Council hopefuls last year, including Scott Stringer and Land Use Committee Chair Rafael Salamanca Jr. One of their associates, Janet Peguero, was just named Bronx deputy borough president.
New York’s leisure and hospitality industry lost 30% of its jobs during the pandemic, and the timing of the omicron surge during the holiday season deterred customers from dining out while sickening restaurant and bar staff. Andrew Rigie has pleaded for more government aid for hospitality businesses even after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $450 million recovery plan since the industry is not expected to recover fully until 2026. That tough forecast could make anyone look for a to-go cocktail.
The taxi industry has been battered simultaneously by the pandemic, which dried up ridership and sickened drivers and predatory lending which bankrupted taxi workers’ families. Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, one of the few de Blasio appointees to continue in her post, led efforts last year to restructure medallion loans and provide debt relief after cab drivers held a hunger strike at City Hall. The deal’s final cost could rise to more than $100 million.
When the omicron variant was first detected in New York City, Michael Dowling reassured the public that the city’s medical centers would withstand the latest COVID-19 variant through the winter despite the ominous surge in cases overseas. Northwell Health, the state’s largest health care provider, rolled out coronavirus testing sites and temporarily suspended visitations at some hospitals. But Northwell struggled with staffing levels amid the surge – nearly 4,000 employees were out sick in early January, and the system struggled to take in patients from other hospitals as a result.
The coronavirus pandemic has decimated international tourism and temporarily shut down Broadway, prompting headlines like “Is this the worst it’s ever been for NYC cabbies?” But taxi industry lobbyist Michael Woloz noted that surge pricing from Uber and Lyft is steering customers back to hailing cabs. Tourism won’t recover fully for another four years, but the city’s debt forgiveness arrangement with drivers holding predatory loans could help cabbies continue to make a living. CMW’s Jeff Rodus joined the Adams administration, a sign of the firm’s City Hall ties.
One road to City Hall is by first running borough hall, as Mayor Eric Adams can attest to, though it’s too soon to tell whether any of the city’s current borough presidents will follow in Adams’ footsteps. Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, a Republican, won his 2021 comeback bid years after serving in Congress, while the other four, all Democrats, came up through the New York City Council. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is the most experienced of the bunch, having first won election in 2020. Manhattan’s Mark Levine and Brooklyn’s Antonio Reynoso won competitive primaries last year, as did the Bronx’s Vanessa Gibson, the first Black woman to hold her post.
Party bosses may not have as much influence as they used to, but Keith Wright’s endorsement of Eric Adams for mayor certainly didn’t hurt in a ranked-choice race decided by fewer than 10,000 votes. The Manhattan Democratic Party leader also supported Gov. Kathy Hochul’s selection of Harlem legislator Brian Benjamin as lieutenant governor and sympathized with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg amid the criticism he received on his policies to curb crime in the borough. Wright is also a key government relations executive at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which was co-founded by Sid Davidoff, a former City Hall official who has been a trusted adviser to mayors over the years.
One of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s wiser decisions has been to keep Global Strategy Group on her campaign payroll, even after it helped former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s past campaigns. Jon Silvan’s savvy pollsters, including Jefrey Pollock, had advised Hochul since her first congressional run and earned the $123,000 she paid them to map the course of the race. The powerhouse public relations firm also supported RXR Realty in getting approval for its 175 Park redevelopment proposal in Midtown East last year.
Business has clearly been good for Greenberg Traurig, which grossed more than $2 billion in revenue last year. The corporate legal behemoth’s New York practice has only grown larger with new offices in Bridgehampton and Garden City on Long Island and the hiring of former U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko. Wallace oversees the New York office’s more than 300 attorneys while advising heavyweight clients like Extell, Columbia University and Fordham University on real estate transactions and Hornblower Cruises and JCDecaux on government relations matters.
Stuart Shorenstein is a member of a political dynasty that stretches back more than a century, but these days, the family business is government relations. Cozen O’Connor is known for its expertise in real estate transactions but has increased its focus on cannabis and gaming after the state legalized recreational marijuana last spring and allowed mobile sports betting in January. That means a lot of new clients who want to start businesses and regulations to master.
Chris Coffey made a valiant effort guiding political novice Andrew Yang to the head of the pack in the mayoral race for as long as he lasted. The veteran political consultant credited Mayor Eric Adams for focusing on public safety after Yang’s primary loss. When Bradley Tusk decided to step back in October from the firm he founded, Coffey was the obvious choice to take over. Now Coffey launched a new crypto and fintech practice to help companies navigate governmental regulations.
New York’s newest city planning commissioner has a long record of preserving affordable housing and modernizing office space. When he was an Upper East Side council member, Dan Garodnick shepherded a complex plan to rezone Midtown East that spanned two mayoralties and reinvigorated the area around Grand Central with supertall office towers. Garodnick also worked to ensure Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper residents retained another two decades of affordability when their complex was sold and recently published a book about the deal. He’ll work closely with Edith Hsu-Chen, who was named executive director of the Department of City Planning after serving as the agency’s Manhattan borough director.
Mayor Eric Adams recently appointed Andrew Kimball to lead the New York City Economic Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm with a multibillion-dollar budget. Kimball has led Industry City, a 35-acre development on a former industrial site, since 2013, and in 2020, he saw local opponents block his proposed rezoning at the site on the Brooklyn waterfront. He’s set to succeed Rachel Loeb, who ran EDC since James Patchett stepped down in 2021.
Carlo Scissura, who was reportedly Mayor Eric Adams’ pick to head the New York City Economic Development Corp., ultimately opted to continue running the New York Building Congress. Scissura, who previously served as chief of staff to former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and as president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, remains an influential and well-connected city leader in his role, in which he advocates on behalf of the construction industry.
The labor movement picked up some wins in New York City as membership across the state rose 4% and a tight labor market has increased worker leverage. Vincent Alvarez has been encouraged by pro-labor trends such as President Joe Biden’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and a breakthrough in negotiations for better working conditions in the film and television industry. Alvarez is also keeping a close eye on the region’s economy after being named deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York board of directors in January.
The first-term representative doesn’t get as much notoriety as the rest of “The Squad,” but he is bringing an activist mentality to his office. Rep. Jamaal Bowman earned national headlines when he was arrested during a voting rights demonstration near the Capitol in January – and he has vowed to do it again if Congress doesn’t pass its voting rights bill. He will face a primary challenge from a Yonkers Democratic leader, but his biggest challenge might be dealing with a new congressional district that swaps the Bronx for the more conservative Putnam County.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s neighborhood rezoning plans may have sputtered, but Two Trees had little trouble getting its waterfront projects like the Domino Sugar Factory complex greenlit during the de Blasio era. Jed Walentas got his 1,050-unit River Ring proposal approved after reaching a deal with the City Council days before de Blasio left office. The Walentas clan should be well positioned with the next administration after giving Eric Adams’ nonprofit One Brooklyn $50,000. And that’s in addition to the approximately $24,000 given to the mayor’s campaign by donors connected to or solicited by Walentas.
Steven Rubenstein leads Rubenstein, which has been one of New York City’s leading public relations firms for a long time, with marquee clients like the New York Yankees, Uber and NewYork-Presbyterian. But the communications executive also keeps a pulse on the city’s vibrant civic life through his role as chair of the Association for a Better New York. The nonprofit organization is run by Melva Miller, who became its first CEO and has spearheaded projects such as boosting census turnout.
Immigrant advocates have made little headway in Washington, D.C., under President Joe Biden, but they secured a significant victory over voting rights thanks to Murad Awawdeh’s leadership. New York City will soon allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections, granting the right to more than 800,000 New Yorkers, despite Mayor Eric Adams’ initial objection. Now Awawdeh is demanding state legislators expand health care coverage for undocumented immigrants.
The education reform honcho and hotel labor movement advocate teamed up to launch their own political consulting and government relations firm, Moonshot Strategies, in September. Jenny Sedlis and Jason Ortiz worked together before, raising more than $6 million through a political action committee in support of Eric Adams’ mayoral bid. The veteran lobbyists also brought on former New York City Council speaker spokesperson and Daily News alum Jennifer Fermino to shape communications strategy.
Last spring, Tony Utano led calls for more cops in stations after a spate of attacks alarmed riders and subway workers. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced in January that they would bolster police presence in the city’s transit system and send social workers to address homelessness at Utano’s insistence. But the union leader also had to contend with the spread of the omicron variant that sickened some 21% of transit workers, suspending several subway lines and causing ridership to nosedive during the holidays.
The telecommunications executive manages Charter’s government affairs and regulation work with local and state leaders, not just in New York, but throughout the Northeast. Camille Joseph-Goldman, who previously worked in former city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office, helped the Hochul administration put together an Affordable Connectivity Program that would provide $30-per-month discounts on internet services for low-income families. Her company is also the parent firm of Spectrum News, which owns and operates NY1.
It has been a dark winter for progressives. Their agenda has stalled in Washington, D.C., Gov. Kathy Hochul has dominated early gubernatorial polls and Mayor Eric Adams is running City Hall as if he has a mandate. But Sochie Nnaemeka is hopeful about the next generation of leaders and her party’s ability to give left-leaning voters a choice. She brought on Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton as a senior adviser and is formulating how to frame police reform after the “defund the police” debate arguably hurt Democrats on the ballot.
The de Blasio administration often butted heads with charter school leaders, when he wasn’t ignoring their needs altogether. But James Merriman should expect to have a smoother relationship with the Adams administration, especially after the mayor selected a schools chancellor who founded his own charter school. The governor proposed a 5% boost in state aid for charters in January, which would increase funding to $17,633 per student compared with $16,844 the previous year. But to Merriman’s disappointment, there’s no change to the cap on charters.
Joseph Strasburg finally got his wish when Gov. Kathy Hochul allowed New York’s eviction moratorium to expire in January. The leader of the Rent Stabilization Association has argued that tenants have received billions of dollars in rent relief while small landlords struggled with back taxes and mortgage payments. But Strasburg has also joined calls for more funding to be allocated to the state’s emergency rental assistance program so owners of affordable units could eventually get paid.
The rise of Mayor Eric Adams reflects the political pendulum moving back to the center after eight years under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who himself swung the city to the left after 12 years of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Adams’ relatively moderate position allows him to rely on those two predecessors – and their many former aides and allies – as he charts a new course for the city. Two other veteran politicians who were once front-runners to become mayor, former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who just took a job as senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Montefiore Medicine, have also served as informal advisers as the new mayor gets his footing.
Lou Coletti predicted at the start of the pandemic that the coronavirus would cost New York’s contractors billions due to stalled construction projects. The industry lost 44,000 jobs through last year and has struggled to recover. Meanwhile, the cost of housing has skyrocketed as the city’s population grows, prompting Coletti to advocate for more housing construction. As work slowed down on many residential and commercial projects in the city, construction has shifted to interior work of existing buildings.
As the newspaper of record not just in New York but nationally, The New York Times has the reputation – and the resources – to report stories that prompt policymakers to change course. The paper installed Times veteran James Dao as metro editor last year, following stints as an op-ed editor and as Albany bureau chief. Two other important Times journalists focusing on city politics are Mara Gay, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who joined the editorial board in 2018, and metro reporter Jeff Mays.
The city has distributed 129 million meals, including 27 million kosher or halal ones, since the pandemic started, but David Greenfield believes demand from Muslim and Jewish families could be even higher. Greenfield’s Met Council more than doubled its usual Rosh Hashanah food delivery with 1.34 million pounds distributed last year. But the group also responds to emergencies, chipping in $200 for each household affected by the deadly fire that struck a Bronx building in January. Greenfield also served as co-chair of New York City Mayor Eric Adams' human services transition committee.
When chief technology officer John Paul Farmer announced his exit in December, Mayor Eric Adams looked to One Police Plaza for a suitable replacement. Matt Fraser, the NYPD’s top information officer, took over in January with an expanded role that manages the city’s technology agencies under a single office. Fraser said he would prioritize cybersecurity, public safety, finance and cryptocurrencies, although he might want to get a head start on crypto after the mayor lost more than $1,000 in four days after converting his first paycheck into Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Although Mayor Eric Adams has garnered more attention for his pledge to combat crime, he has also emphasized his support for local business – including small businesses. During his first week in office, the mayor issued an executive order dubbed “Small Business Forward” that aims to ease up on fines and penalties for small businesses. New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim, who previously was commissioner of the New York State Liquor Authority, touted the move as “smart policy that will help small businesses get back on their feet.”
Mayor Eric Adams’ appointees have exemplified a combination of expertise, experience and loyalty, and this trio of advisers reflect all three qualities. Menashe Shapiro, Adams’ deputy chief of staff, was a key player on the campaign trail and has helped identify and recruit other members of the City Hall team. Stefan Ringel has been with Adams since their days at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where he started out as communications director. The appointment of former New York City Council Member Eric Ulrich, a Queens Republican, also reflects Adams’ embrace of the political center.
When Jimmy Oddo was serving as Staten Island borough president, he didn’t harbor any ambitions of becoming mayor – landing a role as deputy mayor of operations was his real dream job. While Mayor Eric Adams appointed Meera Joshi to that role, Oddo was brought on to serve as her chief of staff. Another official with plenty of government experience that Adams brought on to fill a similar behind-the-scenes role is Jeff Rodus, who is chief of staff to First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo. Rodus previously was a top lobbyist at CMW Strategies.
Mayor Eric Adams is comfortable in the spotlight and is often happy to serve as his own spokesperson, but anyone governing a city of 8.8 million needs an effective communications team. Leading Adams’ press shop is Maxwell Young, who took on the role of communication director in late December after stints with Everytown for Gun Safety, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, whose office has produced some of the top communications pros in the city.
As an ally of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, Jason Laidley is well connected in his home borough and beyond. Laidley has served Bailey, who leads the Bronx Democrats, as chief of staff and remains his campaign manager. Laidley also worked for the Bronx Democrats back when Heastie was its leader. He recently launched his own public affairs firm, London House Consulting, and joined Moonshot Strategies as well.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis refused to certify the presidential election results or impeach Donald Trump as president last year, and she voted against investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. But New York City’s only Republican House member did vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments. The Staten Islander also chose to support President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill because it would be good for her district. Yet, a likely rematch with former Rep. Max Rose looms – and Democratic-drawn district lines won’t help her reelection chances.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Adolfo Carrión Jr. oversees the New York City Housing Authority. This post has also been updated to remove the incorrect statement that David Banks had led a charter school.
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