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Student, Harris Weiss

Senior plans a career in politics

By Joseph Barberio

Harpur College student Harris Weiss has pursued his passion for politics in roles ranging from student activism to managing a winning city council campaign.

“I’ve always had an interest in political science,” Weiss said. “My freshman year I got involved with the presidential campaign and realized that this is something I really like and am interested in.”

A senior political science major from Brockport, N.Y., Weiss joined the College Democrats at Binghamton as a way to expand upon his love of politics and raise political awareness on campus for students. In the fall semester of 2014, he became president of Binghamton University’s College Democrats.

“That fall was one of the most successful semesters while I was president because we were able to register a lot of voters,” Weiss said. “From 2014 we increased turn out and doubled it from 2010, which was a similar governor election year.”

He credits the group’s efforts as being an important factor in the 2014 election of Kim Myers to the Broome County Legislature.

“The student body was able to successfully swing that race toward Kim Myers,” Weiss said. “The amount of votes she got on campus was basically her margin of victory. We like to think we played a big role because the day before the election we called every student to remind them to vote and during the day we were getting people to go vote.”

In December of 2014, Weiss became the manager to Binghamton University undergraduate student Conrad Taylor’s campaign for a Binghamton city council seat. Weiss and his student-run team would eventually win the election last November.

“The biggest reason I wanted to be a part of that campaign was that I always thought that in Binghamton – since Binghamton students and the University community play such a big role in the area – it would be interesting to see a student representative somewhere in government, whether it be at the city or county level,” Weiss said.

For Weiss the election was a “whirlwind,” but seeing his team’s hard work pay off made it all worth it.

“We spent a year working on this campaign and we built it from just me and Conrad up to a team of 22 people,” Weiss said. “From no one believing what we were doing was possible to, on Election Day, proving that a bunch of students can get together and do something if they are really passionate about it.”

This semester, Weiss is in Albany interning for New York State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who represents Binghamton.

“Most of my major political experience comes from the campaign side,” Weiss said. “Since I know I want to get into politics after I graduate. … I wanted to get an internship that would give me some more government experience firsthand.”

At his internship, Weiss assists Assemblywoman Lupardo by attending meetings and doing research on legislation.

“If there is an important vote coming up in a committee or on the floor, then I do some research on the pros and cons to give to the assemblywoman,” Weiss said. “That way when she goes to the floor or goes into a debate she knows the good and bad so she can weigh the options.”

After graduation, Weiss knows that he wants to work in politics in some capacity.

“My eventual goal is to go to law school, but for at least 2016 I know I want to take a break from school and work,” Weiss said. “I might be coming back to Binghamton to work on the Kim Myers race for Congress. … I just know that I want to go into campaigns since it is 2016 and such a big election year.”

As for long-term goals, Weiss admitted that he would love to run for office himself one day, but wants to keep his options clear.

“I’m trying to take things one step at a time, but it would be a dream of mine to run for office,” Weiss said. “To be one of the people who helps make decisions and try to do things that help people.”

Regardless of what the future holds, Weiss is certain that politics is definitely the right path for him.

“Politics, even though we see a lot of divisiveness in it, can show that people can come together for a common goal and really do something extraordinary,” Weiss said. “It’s something that proved to me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

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Last Updated: 11/30/17