The Life of Westchester’s Rob Astorino
On the road (in an election year) with the County Executive
(page 2 of 8)
After the March of Dimes event, Astorino returns home to his tidy Dutch Colonial in Mount Pleasant to change into a light gray suit before heading back out. Sheila, his wife of 12 years, joins him in the living room. The daughter of Irish immigrants from Yonkers, she is lovely, mid 30s, with a big smile, dark hair, expressive blue eyes, and the slightly frazzled aura of a fulltime mother of three young children: Sean, 9; Kiley, 8; and Ashlin, 3. The kids are piled onto a chair together, watching TV, giggly and happy, with their parents’ huge eyes and open faces.
Devout Catholics, the Astorinos attended mass on Saturday to leave Sunday open for the C.E.’s whirlwind appearances. While he is on the road, Sheila will take the kids to a birthday party. Sometimes she has to call her husband’s scheduler to find out when he’ll be home, but today the schedule is clear: The family will meet up again around six for dinner at their favorite diner followed by Sean’s first lacrosse scrimmage at Westlake High School, Astorino’s alma mater.
Astorino does his best to balance work and family. He’ll steal an hour on workdays to read the kids a story, help with homework, and tuck them into bed. He takes them out for pizza or to Applebee’s, and enjoys cooking breakfast on Saturdays. “My specialty is croissant French toast,” he says. “I put amaretto in the batter.” He’ll go straight from a teachers’ meeting in Hawthorne to a press conference in Ossining. Occasionally, when work and domestic planets align, he’ll take the kids to family-friendly events and activities like marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Yonkers and cutting the opening-day ribbon at Rye Playland. Sheila, Sean, and Kiley were in the audience a few days earlier when Astorino delivered his State of the County address, along with his parents (long divorced). Astorino turned his two older children’s presence into a punch line; as a preamble, he showed a slide of Sean and Kiley, looking put-upon and holding a sign that read: “Free the Astorino 2.”
“What did that mean, anyway?” Sean asks impishly. He is his dad’s mini-me, with the same broad face and gregarious manner. He loves to press the flesh like his dad. After the State of the County speech, he chatted and shook hands with the grownups, completely at ease. Astorino has held a County political office since he was 21, and his children, too, seem born to politics, always in odd years: Sean in 2003, during his father’s first run for County Board of Legislators; Kiley in 2005, right before he announced he was challenging Andrew Spano for County Executive. (“I decided to run, and then we ran to the hospital.”) In 2009, Sheila was pregnant with Ashlin when he ran for County Executive the second time; she gave birth four weeks before Election Day. He beat Spano this time, on a platform of tax and budget reform. Recently Astorino joked to Sheila that he’s not only running again, but it’s an odd year. “She told me to go sleep down the hall for the rest of the year.”
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