The Midwood Kid
Recent Touro grad and Brooklyn native Avi Rosenberg won’t sleep till Washington
The idea of a teenage politician might strike people as something riper for satire than a plausible, real-world government tenure. But for Avi Rosenberg, a recent graduate of Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Brooklyn, the notion of holding office while barely old enough to vote is serious business.
“That was always one of my interests ever since I was young,” Rosenberg recalls. “In fourth grade, my school did an expose on [the presidential election], showing the vote and how it works. So I got interested back then, and ever since, I’ve been interested in politics.”
In 2010, while still enrolled at Touro, then-19-year-old Rosenberg ran for a seat in the New York State Senate’s 27th District. “I had a friend who also ran for Assembly during the same time as me,” Rosenberg explains. “The summer before I started Touro, he contacted me saying, ‘Do you wanna run for office?’ I wasn’t sure yet, but after looking through the issues, and because he was gonna help me out, I figured, ‘Now would be a good time to run.’”
The enterprising student and Midwood resident developed a conservative platform, advocating tax cuts and enhanced benefits and programs for the elderly, among other community-cum-national issues. Rosenberg garnered only 27 percent of the vote, but he gained experience that’s difficult to come by without applying academic principles outside the classroom.
“What I learned is you obviously need a lot more money to run,” he says in retrospect. “You need a lot more volunteers to help you run. I learned that not everyone’s as interested as you are. One guy, as I was handing out flyers, ripped up the flyer in my face. But it didn’t stop me. You have to get used to that. Sometimes, people just don’t wanna listen to you or [want to] ridicule you for what you’re trying to do.”
Rosenberg, now 21 and pursuing his Master of Social Work at Fordham University, has hardly let those minor setbacks define or diminish his post-grad ambition and sense of community obligation. “It showed me that I had a greater interest in my political career,” he says of that 2010 race, adding that following the election, he was appointed as Secretary of Lander College’s Political Science Club and associate editor for the department’s journal. “I want to make sure everyone has their fair share and create a greater sense of involvement in government. I think a lot of people feel like, ‘What power do I have? I’m just 19, I’m just 20; no one’s gonna listen to me.’ And that’s what I thought when I ran. But I think people are starting to see they do have a say and they can make a change.”