In the era of President Donald Trump, the national political debate has grown increasingly divisive. Voters are shifting to the extremes, leaving fewer Americans in the middle. But there are places where independent-minded voters still play an important role – and in New York, one of those places is Westchester County.

The county’s history as a swing district – after two terms with Republican Rob Astorino as county executive, it went strongly for Democrat George Latimer last year – gives it outsized importance in state politics and policymaking. Politicians like Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who lives in Westchester when he’s not in Albany – must keep the county’s needs in mind on the campaign trail. It’s no surprise that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is hoping to lead Senate Democrats back to the majority, hails from Westchester.

In this special issue of City & State, we take a closer look at the lesser-known – but no less influential – movers and shakers of Westchester County. Since we cover politicians on a day-to-day basis, we limited this list to those who are not strictly in government but instead influence it from the outside.

We partnered on this project with Suzanne Colucci, an award-winning television journalist based in Westchester. We reached out to insiders and experts to compile this list, ranking each person based on their accomplishments, their sway in political and policy matters, their economic clout, their philanthropic efforts, their ties to powerful politicians and the constituencies they represent.

We’re pleased to present the Westchester Power 50.

Thompson & Bender is the go-to advertising and public relations firm in Westchester County. If there is a major event, campaign or product launch in Westchester, odds are this award-winning agency is involved. Founded in 1987, the trifecta of talent behind it are Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and her husband Geoff Thompson as well as Dean Bender, who represents Fortune 500 companies, banks and hospitals. While Bracken-Thompson is the creative force behind the agency, Thompson and Bender handle government relations, crisis management and strategy.

 

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