The Life of Westchester’s Rob Astorino
On the road (in an election year) with the County Executive
(page 4 of 8)
If it’s lunchtime, this must be the Polish Community Center on Waverly Street. Once the hub of a vital Polish-American community, the massive turreted building is now up for sale. Apparently the Mormon Church is interested. In the meantime it functions as a catering hall. Astorino puts on his jacket and heads inside while Brendan follows, proclamation in hand, to the annual luncheon for the Westchester Pulaski Association.
We are definitely not in Crestwood anymore. Children in native Polish costume run around the cavernous ballroom. A woman calls tables up to the buffet in heavily accented English. It’s an older crowd, nicely dressed. Astorino goes from table to table, shaking hands and chatting. He is in friendly territory. When he smiles for photos, his dimples appear on cue. He exudes a smooth, squeaky-clean charisma that older voters adore. He is a poised and persuasive speaker, at ease in front of an audience. He speaks fluent Spanish and has an ear for all languages. Before an appearance, he’ll Google or ask someone how to say hello in whatever language the audience happens to speak. At the podium he delights the crowd by saying czesc: Polish for hello. He presents the proclamation and says a few words about the importance of family traditions, says another Polish word, followed by more handshaking and photographs. “We’re going to work hard for him,” says one supporter about the upcoming re-election campaign. “He’s so busy. And he’s got children at home. This is extracurricular.”
Though you could make the argument that in a campaign year, when every handshake and photograph is a potential vote, every appearance is on the curriculum.
continued on the next page...