City Council candidate Seth Breland launched his campaign for the 2021 city council elections last month joining half a dozen other candidates in the race.
But unlike the others, he did so in between studying for his sociology class and attending online lectures.
A freshman in college and just 18 years old, Breland is running to represent District 23 in the New York City Council. If elected, he would be the youngest member of the council in history.
Lawmakers always go to schools and host youth round tables, he said, but now it’s time for more. And after watching the countrywide mobilization of youth this past summer, he decided to take his chances and run for office.
“I think it’s time for young people to have a seat at the table and to have a chance to participate and fight for, you know, the issues that they hold near and dear,” said Breland.
So he’s running, and involving as many young people as he can in his campaign such as the recent high school graduate who designed his campaign logo.
Breland is up against at least seven other candidates so far in the race to replace City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik (D-Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens, Queens Village), who is not term-limited but decided to not run for re-election in October.
Despite being young, Breland has more political experience than some who vie for office in the city. He began his political career the summer after 8th grade as an intern in State Assemblymember David Weprin’s (D-Richmond Hill, Fresh Meadows) office where he worked crafting social media posts and doing legislative research for three summers. He then headed down to Washington D.C. for a few months during his junior year after he was appointed by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer to serve the Democratic Caucus as a page in the U.S. Senate.
Some may think that because he’s young he will have extreme ideas for how the district should be run, he said. But he says that’s not the case.
“We’re running on local issues. Running to take care of our schools, take care of our roads and our overpasses and truly improve our bus service and things like that. You know, local issues that affect local people and their everyday lives,” he said. “I believe we already have a strong district. But we can always do better.”
The pandemic amplified problems in the district and the city that need solving, he said, some of which he struggled through personally. Because of the pandemic, he finished out his senior year virtually, and experienced first hand the burden of remote learning on a family. His family also struggled through the temporary unemployment of one of his parents and the loss of a family member to the virus.
Education is his main platform because of his experience during his senior year of high school as a student representative on the District Education Council for District 26. He wants schools to be equally funded and given more resources for in-school academic programs and after school programs to relieve working parents. He believes in the highly debated SHSAT but said that test preparation needs to be more readily accessible for low income students as well. But he also thinks there’s a big hole in the conversation over specialized high schools –– that they are filling a gap that local schools don’t fill.
“We need to look at why students want to leave their local home school in their local middle schools,” he said.
The only thing about him and his campaign that is extreme is his youth, he said, but he doesn’t think that will get in his way. If anything, he believes his youth is an advantage.
“I’d be able to bring that enthusiasm and tireless advocacy for them that we haven’t seen in some of our elected officials in a while,” he said.