The 2021 Bronx Power 100

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1. Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker

Carl Heastie
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New York State Assembly

In the Bronx, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s allies Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and former Assembly Member Marcos Crespo opted to exit public office rather than stay in the fight, while others remained and lost. In Albany, Heastie’s caucus grows more unruly, openly critical and leftward-tilting with each election cycle. But the speaker remains atop both the Bronx Democratic machine and the Assembly, recently installing another protégé, state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, to lead the former and maintain his iron grip on the latter for his sixth year running.


2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Member of Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
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Jesse Korman

Few politicians across the country, much less in the Bronx, attract as much praise, ire and media attention as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is the most prominent democratic socialist in a state that continues to elect more leftists. Progressives look to her for leadership and covet her endorsement. Her late backing almost lifted mayoral candidate Maya Wiley to victory, while her support of Brad Lander helped him win the comptroller race.


3. Jamaal Bailey

Chair, Bronx Democrats Executive Committee

Jamaal Bailey
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New York State Senate

State Sen. Jamaal Bailey is the new boss of Bronx Democrats, bridging the divides that have rattled the party in recent years. Bailey is both a progressive criminal justice reformer and a loyal party acolyte, receiving a career boost from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s mentorship. Already under his leadership, a new image of the party is forming: A woman of color will likely be borough president and make up a majority of the Bronx City Council delegation for the first time.


4. Ritchie Torres

Member of Congress

Ritchie Torres
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Office of Congressman Torres

Rep. Ritchie Torres’ gamble backing early mayoral front-runner Andrew Yang didn’t pay off, but for the newly minted representative, it was just the latest example of the independent streak that got him into Congress in the first place. As one of the first two openly gay, Black members of Congress, he quickly made a name for himself. He proposed bills that would cut funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement partnerships with local police. He also introduced a resolution condemning the anti-trans bills sweeping statehouses across the country.


5. Darcel Clark

Bronx District Attorney

Darcel D. Clark
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Joao D’alessandro

Even as Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has begun to dismiss marijuana cases by the thousands and expunge the records of sex workers, she has maintained a tough-on-crime stance by recently declaring war on gun violence at a rally in University Heights. As part of her plan to address the rise in shootings, she announced that a team of assistant district attorneys would investigate non-fatal shootings as if they were homicides in order to get more guns off the street.


6. Jeffrey Dinowitz

Assembly Member

When Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. leaves office at the end of 2021, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz will be one of the last architects of the 2008 “Rainbow Rebellion,” a coalition that elevated him, Diaz, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and their allies into Bronx Democratic Party leadership. Dinowitz has avoided serious electoral threats, unlike former state Sen. Jeff Klein and former Rep. Eliot Engel, whose districts overlapped with the Assembly member’s. Dinowitz runs the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee alongside Heastie, and helped his son, Eric Dinowitz, win former City Council Member Andrew Cohen’s seat.


7. Gustavo Rivera

Chair, State Senate Health Committee

Gustavo Rivera
/
New York State Senate

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera emerged as one of the leading critics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home pandemic policies – and ended up being interviewed by the FBI for three hours for its probe into the governor. Despite having the votes, another session ended with Rivera and his counterpart, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, unable to pass the New York Health Act. If the bill passes in future sessions, Rivera’s efforts will be second only to Gottfried’s in bringing single-payer health care to New York.


8. Alessandra Biaggi

Chair, State Senate Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance

Alessandra Biaggi
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New York State Senate

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi has no qualms about taking on Albany Democratic leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, or the Dinowitz father-son duo that now both hold elected office in districts overlapping her own. The relationship has never been warm, but the cold war at local political club meetings heated up as Biaggi forcefully backed Eric Dinowitz’s rivals in the special and primary elections for City Council District 11. The progressive star’s endorsement was sought by left-wing candidates across the city in 2021.


9. Vanessa Gibson

New York City Council Member

Vanessa Gibson
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New Yorkers for Vanessa Gibson

New York City Council Member Vanessa Gibson defeated Assembly Member Nathalia Fernández and fellow Council Member Fernando Cabrera in a competitive Democratic primary. Gibson is poised to become the Bronx’s first female and first Black borough president. She made her mark chairing the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, pushing for more police officers and transparency of police surveillance. When she succeeds current Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Gibson will emulate her political mentor and trailblazing “second mother” Aurelia Greene, the longtime Bronx lawmaker who died in May.


10. Rafael Salamanca Jr.

Chair, New York City Council Land Use Committee

Rafael Salamanca Jr.
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Celeste Sloman

Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. will be one of the few incumbents returning to the chamber next January after he abandoned his run for Bronx borough president. The South Bronx Puerto Rican lawmaker could have a shot at running for city council speaker if he’s inclined to leave behind his influential Land Use Committee post. As one of the borough’s top fundraisers, Salamanca could have the backing of the Bronx Democrats if he runs for speaker.


11. Adriano Espaillat

Member of Congress

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