Twenty-nine-year-old Gravesend resident Mike DiSanto is still in grad school, but he wants to be your next state senator.
“We need more regular citizens to stand up and run for office,” DiSanto told this newspaper.
The president of New York University’s Integrated Marketing Association used Community Board 11’s January meeting on 84th Street in Bensonhurst as an opportunity to announce his campaign to challenge three-term Republican State Senator Marty Golden for his 22nd District seat.
“He’s fallen out of touch with the issues of the middle class,” DiSanto says. “Maybe if he had a mortgage to pay, or rode the train. He had eight years, and our transit system is a mess.”
Fourteen months ago, Daniel Squadron became the youngest member of the New York State Senate representingDistrict 25 voters in both downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
Should DiSanto win, he couldbe the youngest senator in the legislature.
“People may criticize me for my youth and for a lack of formal experience in politics,” DiSanto says. “Youth is not a weakness. We have politicians in Albany with years of experience but they have not helped the people of New York.”
DiSanto, a registered Democrat, supports same-sex marriage, wants to institute term limits and believes there is too much waste in Albany that could be used for education.
“It is apparent to everyone that the state legislature is totally dysfunctional,” DiSanto says. “We need to get rid of the bad apples and put in people that will implement change.”
The lifelong West 8th Street resident also says that new programs need to be implemented to help first-time homebuyers.
“When I was growing up in the 80s there was more a sense of community,” DiSanto says. “A lot of the kids that I grew up with couldn’t afford living here. That really hurt the sense of community that we had. I hope we can resurrect that feeling of community by insuring that our families can stay here.”
Stretching from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, the district encompasses some of the most conservative sections of the borough.
Nevertheless, DiSanto doesn’t believe his outspoken support for same-sex marriage will be a detriment to his campaign.
“It’s about equal rights,” he says. “This is an innate conviction – everybody deserves equal rights. That’s just a part of me. I hope people can understand that.”
DiSanto attributes much ofhis inspiration to run for office to his late father Mario, a school teacher and activist in the Italian-American community who ran for school board before he died of bone cancer in 1994.
“I think about my father who wanted so much to see a vibrant community here,” DiSanto explains, remembering how, as a child,he’d oftenaccompany his dad inside the voting booth at David Boody Junior High School on Avenue S.
DiSanto’s mom Josephine, still works for the Department of Education.
Despite the odds, DiSanto, is confident about his chances in the fall.
He hopes to appear on the Working Families line as well as the Democratic.
“I’m confident that I’m going to win,” DiSanto says. “Through my campaign I can encourage more young people to take an active role in government. There are so many smart people that aren’t given a chance to be heard.”
At 29, DiSanto could have a very long political career, indeed, should he be victorious. But that’s not his plan.
“I’m not a career politician,” DiSanto says. “I just want to get in there and help out, and pave the way for somebody else with new ideas.”