Editor’s Note: PoliticsNY’s intrepid reporter Skye Ostreicher was down in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the annual SOMOS political gathering where electeds, their operatives, lobbyists, consultants and PR spin doctors eat, drink and make deals. This is her final report.
People who have been to SOMOS, the annual political conference in Puerto Rico, expressed that this year was bigger and better than in years past.
Here’s what went on during the Spring-Break-style, four-day, nonstop action-packed political and advocacy convention featuring just about every single elected official in NYC & State, as well as many powerful lobbyists and advocacy leaders.
A SOMOS scoop from late last week at the conference: State Senator Shelley Mayer announced her race for NYS Attorney General. Tune into the five-minute exclusive scoop video interview here on PoliticsNY with Skye.
SOMOS mornings featured City Councilmember Kevin Riley and Bronx Dems colleagues’ organized workouts on the beach including Squid Games-inspired Red Light, Green Light, 1,2,3, where many members were eliminated via water gun…
As most conference attendees were on the lookout for events offering food and drink, the New Yorkers for Culture & Arts (NY4CA) not only featured live music and remarks from both Mayor-elect Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul, but before Adams jumped onto the bongo drums, guests heard from executive director Lucy Sexton as well as Wildlife Conservation Society’s John Calvelli, while outgoing Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as former Councilmember Dan Garodnick, floated around the crowd.
Councilmember-elect Shekar Krishnan and Assemblyman Harvey Epstein bonded over the presence of plant-based food options at this particular event since it’s something they each had trouble finding throughout the weekend (there are many vegetarians/vegans in NYC government including Mayor-elect Eric Adams). Worth noting that Councilmember & Speaker candidate Carlina Rivera hosted a reception that did include vegan items.
Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor-elect Eric Adams had some of their first public appearances on Friday along with U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer – who travels with four security details, btw… read more here
With so many different conference-related and alternative events happening basically between four locations/hotels, it’s easy to plan to attend one and bump into colleagues on the street and get redirected to another, and one can be redirected multiple times.
Friday evening’s City & State reception at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse featured Eric Adams taking pictures with an intimate crowd including shareholders from Greenberg Traurig and others. Outgoing NYC Councilmember Robert Cornegy sat with New York City Police Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, who we learned are high school colleagues– Cornegy played basketball while Maddrey played football.
One of the most notable events of the nighttime was a farewell celebration for term-limited Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. which was a rap concert featuring Slick Rick on stage, eyepatch and all, accompanied by Bronx leaders Sen. Jamaal Bailey, Bronx BP-elect Vanessa Gibson, DOE Chancellor Meisha Porter and Diaz Jr, up on a stage performing for the crowd.
Friday’s late-night federal infrastructure budget vote kept members of the NY Congressional delegation away from SOMOS until Saturday (did you know they have a group text?) and upon arrival hosted a press conference discussing what the newly passed bill brings to New York, as well as identifying their New York colleagues who voted against this funding including U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/Bronx), Jamaal Bowman (D-Westchester/Bronx) and Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island).
Heard at Saturday morning’s labor breakfast was Attorney General Tish James on the podium asking for support in her 2022 race for Governor, as well as remarks from Hochul and Adams amongst others.
As the day progressed, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) hosted a poolside reception featuring Congressional colleagues Greg Meeks (D-Queens), Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) and Yvette Clark (D-Brooklyn), as well as some one-on-one convos between new NYC Councilmembers and potential NYC Council Speaker candidates. Other notable attendees included Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Bronx Dems’ Ariana Collado and Port Authority’s Hersh Parekh.
Back at the Sunny Sonesta, a poolside pig roast attracted candidates and insiders including the Cozen O’Connor team, brothers David & Mark Weprin, as well as outgoing Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, political operative Jonathan Yedin & first deputy public advocate Nick E. Smith.
The Working Families Party, Make the Road & Local Progress Reception featured remarks from incoming Councilmembers Alexa Aviles, Marjorie Velazquez, Amanda Farias, Tiffany Caban and others as well as AG James again speaking with passion about running for Governor. Notable Congressional hopefuls in the crowd included Rana Abdelhamid and Brittany Ramos DeBarros.
Most guests continued onto the La Despedida SOMOS ‘Farewell’ White Party Saturday night where the overall consensus amongst the attendees included elation with a side of exhaustion from the jam-packed SOMOS events, and remained largely inconclusive as to who our new City Council Speaker will be.
Top of mind tips & tricks for next year:
Stay within walking distance of where the conference is happening
Bring business cards – unless you have a personalized QR code, the networking gets intense.
Plan a rough itinerary in advance, so you know where you’re going and don’t do circles on the sidewalks unless you’re lucky enough to run into someone with a spreadsheet!