I am not a career politician. I am a father, a husband, and a son. I run a small carpentry business. I am a community organizer; an environmental and social justice activist. I am not bound by corporate or special interests. I enter this campaign with a deep personal drive to secure an equal, just, and safe society for everyone.
I was born and raised in Middletown, NY. I've been a resident of the Minisink Valley for the past 13 years, where I live with my wife and two sons.
I graduated from Middletown High School. I was President of my junior class, a three sport varsity athlete, captain of the soccer team, and Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership representative.
Both of my parents were public servants. My mother, Barbara, was a beloved elementary school teacher in the Middletown School district for nearly 30 years. My father, Christopher, was a respected attorney, a Middletown Councilman, and a three term elected City Court Judge.
I attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Anthropology in 2001. While in college I worked for 84 Lumber, which began my affinity for carpentry.
I met my wife Melissa at JMU. Following graduation, we moved to Cork, Ireland, to work, study, and experience life abroad. While in Ireland, I worked for a carpenter and mason, which furthered my appreciation for the building trades.
Upon returning home to Orange County, I took a job with a local home improvement company. In 2004, using the construction skills I learned, Melissa and I traveled across the United States in a small camper trailer we renovated. “The Great Experiment”, as we called it, was designed for exploration and the study of American culture. From Bangor to Savannah to Laramie to Taos, and places in between, we lived among the locals, listening and learning. I worked for various construction and labor crews, while Melissa volunteered in state parks and national forests as campground host. The greatest lesson we learned from living on the road, and the unifying message we received, from the poorest living on the street to the wealthiest living the high life, was that everyone wants to be truly heard and understood.
We returned home to Orange County in 2006 to settle down and help care for my ailing father who was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Melissa and I found an old farmhouse in Minisink, planted a garden, and resolved to help take care of my parents, while leading a simple, quiet life. I started a small carpentry business. Multiple Sclerosis took my Father in his prime, stealing away a judicial career with great prospects. He finally succumbed to his illness and died in 2012. Living through this experience highlighted the importance of living a happy, healthy life above all else. It taught me there is no time to wait; we must do what we love immediately.
As a carpenter who specializes in renovation and rehabilitation, I have sharpened my skills of critical thinking and problem solving. This will apply well to being a Legislator. When presented with a dysfunctional space, the first step is research, determining what and why it went wrong. The second step is identifying the appropriate tools, materials, and procedures in order to formulate a plan to fix it. The final step is acting, actually following through and fixing the problem. I enjoy a challenge and never shy away from new or unfamiliar territory. Now, I want to advocate for my community and bring about change that fosters equality, social justice, and environmental protection.
In 2014 we became parents. This newfound sense of responsibility, commingled with the events of the past several years, changed my focus. Ensuring a safe and healthy future for my children became my first priority. In 2015 when construction of the CPV power plant began, I realized the future I had planned for my young family was in jeopardy. This was further exacerbated by the rollback of environmental regulations by the federal government. The negative health impacts (particularly on children) of living close to fracked gas infrastructure, together with corruption on every level, compelled me to act. I joined Protect Orange County, a local grassroots environmental group, took on a leadership role, and began informing and organizing the community to stand up against corporate greed and environmental degradation.
The multifaceted issues surrounding CPV illuminated several significant problems I plan to address as a representative for the People: namely, that pay-to-play politics has undermined the most critical function of government, the responsibility to advocate for the best interest of the People. I am not bound by special interest, only by the love of my family and country and the desire to do what is right.