5 couples who found each other in New York politics

Fiancés Jonathan Westin and Camille Rivera.
Fiancés Jonathan Westin and Camille Rivera.
Photos courtesy submitted; Shutterstock/Photo illustration by Aaron Aniton
Fiancés Jonathan Westin and Camille Rivera.

5 couples who found each other in New York politics

Celebrating Valentine's Day with the state's political power couples.
February 13, 2019

New York has been home to some of the most notable power couples in history, from Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill and Hillary Clinton to Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray. This Valentine’s Day, we’re recognizing a handful of lesser-known power couples in New York – and why you should get to know these dynamic duos.

JONATHAN WESTIN & CAMILLE RIVERA

Jonathan Westin is the executive director of New York Communities for Change, and Camille Rivera is national political director for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. They have been married six and a half years.

How did you meet?

Camille: Jonathan and I always have a disagreement about this. We both agree that we were introduced by my mentor the late (Working Families Party founder) Jon Kest but I remember our first meeting being at the ALIGN benefit in 2011 and Jonathan says it was like at a big coalition meeting and I just never paid attention to him.

Jonathan: I met Camille for the first time organizing protests against Wall Street in 2011. She did not remember meeting me then, but I definitely remember meeting her.

Do your professional lives ever overlap?

Camille: Yes, Jon and I became close working while I was the executive director for United NY and he was working for NYCC as the organizing director under Jon Kest. It was during the Occupy movement and we became very close. We worked closely to organize the march on Oct. 5 and then again in November we also worked closely on the fast food and minimum wage organizing. I was building our low-wage coalition, political and community work, and he was just taking on the lead role as executive director for NYCC. It was a very busy time and we worked very closely together.

Jonathan: A lot. We did a lot of organizing together during Occupy Wall Street, and then on the #FightFor15 and even today (we) are both organizing to stop Amazon from coming to New York City.

Have you ever disagreed on a political issue?

Camille: Umm yeah, all the time! Even though we both have strong progressive values we approach the work differently and sometimes from different lenses. We are not always on the same side regarding our work. For example, Jon was very intimately involved in the Cynthia Nixon campaign and my organization endorsed and were staunch supporters of the governor. And when I worked for the mayor, there were a lot of times when he was at odds with the administration.

Jonathan: We disagree on politics a lot! I usually take more left-flank positions than Camille on lots of issues and races, which more often than not ends up causing her lots of headaches!

Do you have any advice for other couples in politics?

Camille: Yes, it is always important to maintain your independence and individuality and remind folks of that you’re your own person in this field. It’s always important let other people know that you’re not your partner’s keeper. As for you as a couple, you don’t always talk politics. Working in politics and living a life that is attached to your progressive values aren’t the same. Ensure that you have a firewall when it comes to work and never bring it home. If I have a work conversation and our paths cross, I call him at his office. And I always call him by his last name Westin when talking about him and or if it’s work-related. Praise each other often and never let the bad stuff from the outside in. And when nothing else works, always say you love each other at the end of the night.

Jonathan: Yes! Don’t let politics get in the way of your relationship. Understand that you both have to have as much independence in your work lives as possible to be able to do the things you think are necessary to achieve your goals.

ALEXIS OGRA & CHRIS CATT

Alexis-Ogra-and-Chris-Catt-Power-couple-feature.gif

Alexis Ogra, former chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Joseph Errigo and current constituent service liaison for Rep. Chris Collin, and her fiancé Chris Catt, chief of staff to state Sen. Pam Helming and vice chairman of the Ontario County Republican Comm
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Alexis Ogra, former chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Joseph Errigo and current constituent service liaison for Rep. Chris Collin, and her fiancé Chris Catt, chief of staff to state Sen. Pam Helming and vice chairman of the Ontario County Republican Comm
Title Text: 
Alexis Ogra and her fiancé Chris Catt.
Caption: 
Alexis Ogra and her fiancé Chris Catt.
Description: 
Alexis Ogra, former chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Joseph Errigo and current constituent service liaison for Rep. Chris Collin, and her fiancé Chris Catt, chief of staff to state Sen. Pam Helming and vice chairman of the Ontario County Republican Committee.
Image Credit: 
Submitted

Alexis Ogra, former chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Joseph Errigo and current constituent service liaison for Rep. Chris Collins, is engaged to Chris Catt, chief of staff to state Sen. Pam Helming and vice chairman of the Ontario County Republican Committee.

How did you meet?

We met while Alexis worked for the Erie County Republican Committee in Buffalo and Chris worked for the House of Represent