Have you ever considered running for county legislature before your 21st birthday? If you haven’t, then you can live vicariously through the life of junior Jon Goldsmith. Local student, Goldsmith is running for the Monroe County Legislature in district 13, which includes most of the townof Henrietta. Each district contains about 25,000 people.

The County Legislature serves as the legislative branch of the County Government, by passing bills that must later be approved by the County Executive before becoming laws. They are also responsible for an annual one-billion dollar budget. The full legislature, which meets once a month – as does each of its committees – is made up of 29 members.

His reasoning for undertaking this challenging endeavor is simple – he loves politics. Typical of many students, Goldsmith wanted to get involved in an activity off campus. He ended up participating in an internship with the democrats in the Monroe County Legislature, and throughout his tenure, he learned about the political battles being fought in the county. Slowly but surely, he acquired basic knowledge of the logistics of Monroe County.

He became frustrated learning of the difficulties the county was having and decided that these issues were incentive enough to pursue a position in which he could take a stand and make a difference.

“I thought I had the answers to these questions and I struggled to make my views heard,” Goldsmith said.”When the opportunity to run presented itself, I decided I would be much more successful at getting my ideas and views heard as a candidate.”

Goldsmith’s decision to run received varying reactions from members of the Rochester community. There is the obvious initial hint of skepticism and shock when people realized Goldsmith is still, in fact, a college student. He proved, however, that he was genuinely capable and devoted to instilling positive changes in the county legislature. Goldsmith recounts his own experiences with people’s responses.

“People in the political community had reactions, from disbelief, to doubt, to enthusiasm,” Goldsmith said. “The greatest thing was to see how their initial reactions changed over the course of the campaign – those who stood by me in the beginning still do, but people who were unsure have become confident in our effort.”

However, the reactions he is most concerned about are the ones from the residents of his district, since his campaign is dependent on their support. His passion for politics is clearly present as he campaigns door-to-door and engages in lively discussions of current issues surrounding the county.

“As we talk, they see how serious I am and how much I believe in my convictions,” Goldsmith said.He has been so successful in creating relationships with residents that one man approached him in a 7-Eleven convenience store informing him that he was planning on switching his party registration as a result of their conversation. Another sent him an e-mail praising his ideas and wanting to donate $500 to his campaign.

Not only has Goldsmith been venturing door-to-door to reach out to his potential voters, but he has also been going to community events in the district, and has been featured in stories in the Henrietta Post, Democrat and Chronicle, WROC TV News 8, News 10NBC, RNews and has also participated in two candidate forums.

Goldsmith’s biggest concern right now is the growing budget gaps being faced every year. His platform is to ensure that taxes won’t be raised to compensate these gaps. Goldsmith has meticulously researched and constructed a solution to this issue. Part of his solution entails a countywide wireless internet proposal, which may impact students on campus.

As Goldsmith describes it, “It would supply everyone in the county who was interested with wireless internet at a reduced cost, while creating a high-tech hub in Rochester which would in turn bring businesses into the area.” By doing so,he aims to create jobs, increase the tax base and provide a necessary service at a reduced cost. Goldsmith is confident that his resolution would be greatly beneficial to the community.

It is clear that Goldsmith’s aspirations revolve around making a better environment for the residents of Henrietta. Undoubtedly, this opportunity could do wonders for his future in politics and law, should he decide to go down that road, but right now he’s more concerned with devoting himself to the people.

A few months ago when asked “Where do you see yourself politically in 10 years?” Goldsmith responded by stating, “I’m more prepared to answer the question ‘where do I see the people of Henrietta in 10 years?'”

Whether or not he decides to pursue politics as a career, he’s grateful for the opportunities that have arisen throughout his campaign and to meet and work with influential political figures, such as former State Senator Rick Dollinger, Assemblyman and County Democratic Chair Joe Morelle, County Legislature minority leader Stephanie Aldersley among others.

His future will be centered on whatever brings him joy, which will effectively ignite his sense of passion and motivation – both vital factors in the working world.

With Nov. 8 just around the corner, make sure you head out to the polls if you are registered in Monroe County. For more information go to http://www.monroecounty.gov.

Weintraub can be reached aweintraub@campustimes.org.

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