NEW YORK CITY—The state's biggest utility may soon lose itsleading lobbyist to the real estate industry's most influentialorganization.

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John Banks, VP of government relations forCon Edison, is a front runner to take over aspresident of the Real Estate Board of New York, according toCrain's New York Business. A REBNYspokesperson declined to comment to GlobeSt.com while a Con Edspokesperson did not respond to a call from GlobeSt.com.

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The post has been held for close to 30 years by StevenSpinola, a well-regarded executive who this summerannounced that he would retire next year.

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Banks has been a top executives working in Con Ed's governmentaffairs since 2002. Previously, he was chief of staff for the CityCouncil.

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If hired by REBNY, Banks would be expected to follow Spinola'slegacy of wielding the group's clout and wealth to shape or haltgovernment regulations, laws and tax policies that impact the realestate industry. REBNY's board of governors—a group of memberscomposed largely of the city's biggest and most powerfullandlords—has been vetting candidates since Spinola announced hisdeparture in June.

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Like Spinola before him, Banks has spent a great deal of hiscareer working for city government. He got his start in the Mayor'soffice in 1986, Crain's reports. In 1990, he joined theCity Council, working his way up to become the council's chief ofstaff from 2000 to 2002 before leaving to join Con Ed. Similarly,Spinola served as a senior economic development official underMayor Ed Koch in the 1980s before moving to REBNYin 1986.

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Banks' competition for REBNY's top post reportedly isJim Whelan, an executive at the trade associationwho has helped lead its lobbying efforts for the past four years.Among Whelan's recent work was a successful push to help keepRepublicans in control of the state Senate. Many members of theindustry see the Senate as a vital counterbalance to the state'sDemocrat-controlled Assembly. Particularly since the Senategenerally has generally supported real estate interests.

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Ramon Martinez, deputy chief of staff to CityCouncil Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, also issaid to be under consideration for the position.

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Rayna Katz

Rayna Katz is a seasoned business journalist whose extensive experience includes coverage of the lodging sector, travel and the culinary space. She was most recently content director for a business-to-business publisher, overseeing four publications. While at Meeting News, a travel trade publication, she received a Best Reporting award for a story on meeting cancellations in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.