High Schooler Eyes City Council Seat
Calling himself the youngest candidate ever for the City Council, a local high school student with big political ambitions is looking to unseat an incumbent as he gets ready to enter his senior year. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
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Most days, Dodge Landesman is just trying to get through his classes. But he is no ordinary high school junior. Landesman has set his sights on the City Council, and is mounting a campaign to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.
"I am 18. But I thought, I'm not going to run in spite of my age. I'm not going to brush my age under a rug. I am going to run because of my age," said Landesman.
State law requires elected officials to be at least 18 years old on election day. Landesman says he's trying to give young people a voice in government. He wants to increase funding for special education, protect public schools from budget cuts and has proposed creating a tax credit for families who volunteer.
"There are certain issues in the City Council that are not being talked about. I am trying to bring those issues to the table," said Landesman.
It doesn't hurt that Landesman hails from a prominent theatrical family. His father is the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, his mother a set designer.
His campaign pulled in $6,500 by mid-March and Landesman says high-profile contributors like Julianne Moore and Danny Meyer have chipped in since.
He has enlisted the help of relatives and friends, but some concede that winning will be tough.
"I don't want to say he has no shot, but he's a long shot. I mean, this is his first campaign and he's only 18. He doesn't have any experience," said Leah Mark, a fellow student at Landesman's school.
It's clear, however, that Landesman's opponent, who represents the Lower East Side, East Village and Gramercy Park, doesn't think his bid is a laughing matter.
"I would take anyone's campaign seriously irrespective of age, gender," said Mendez.
Mendez says she's concerned that if Landesman won, he'd still have another year of high school left.
"Juggling the last three months of senior year with the first three months of the Council will be a little tough. But I think my teachers will be flexible," said Landesman.
For now, he's counting down the weeks to his summer vacation. For this Council candidate, the end of the school year means the start of full-time campaigning.