How We Lead 2020
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How We Lead 2020

Candidate Profile: William Schleisner

The past two weeks have been life-altering: as the world moves toward a new uncertain future, our relationship to elected officials has become more important than ever. The work of state and local candidates is critical — from advocating for rent freezes to local support for food banks and social services, candidate are continuing to support their communities (from home.)

Take a look at some of our most prolific candidates in our new Candidate Spotlight Series.

Meet William Schleisner a candidate running for New York State Assembly, District 2. Willaim is a champion of progressive values and an advocate for the New York Health Act and Universal Pre-K. He understands the struggles a young family faces in New York and plans to fight tirelessly for their needs. Learn more about William in the interview below!

Hi William! Tell us, who or what inspired you to run for office?
My children inspired me to run: seeing the future they are growing up in I am concerned about our leaders bowing to special interests. I want to be the catalyst for change in our government. I want to the be the one to go-to Albany and fight for my children and their future.

What issue is most pressing in your community and how do you plan on remedying it?
Healthcare was our biggest issue before COVID-19 and it’s still our biggest issue. The holes in our healthcare system make it clear that people don’t have adequate access to care, so much so that we need to beg insurance companies not to charge for the tests (let alone the battle we will be having if you attempt to receive care for the virus.) Our healthcare infrastructure is being overwhelmed and it’s largely due to hospitals and healthcare conglomerates more worried about their bottom lines than making sure people are cared for. As a member of the Assembly I intend on co-sponsoring the New York Health Act which will provide single payer health care for all New Yorkers.

Right now, there is quite a bit of uncertainty around COVID-19 and the poor response from our federal officials. What responsibility do state and local officials have to their constituents?
It is unfortunate that the federal government is playing with people’s lives. It’s clear they are playing favorites and it’s unacceptable. Our governor has done a good job of giving us a clear direction on how to get beyond the virus but the federal government and Trump Administration is making it difficult to keep the number of deaths down. If we are asking for a particular amount of ventilators it should be provided.

What’s surprised you the most about being a candidate?
How easy I find it is to talk to voters. I figured I would be shy and scared to walk up to people. But after a couple of people, I just enjoyed it. I have no problem talking to anyone and that is definitely a surprise to me.

As you’ve been meeting with voters in your community, what is something new that you learned?
That when you get out of the Facebook bubble people, are really open to viewing your side of the argument. I think people spend so much time arguing on social media that they forget that in the end we all want the same things — we just disagree on how to get there.

If you could change one thing in politics today what would it be?
I would put spending caps on campaigns. Level the playing field for new candidates who don’t have that vast network of donors yet. Incumbents would then have no need to spend so much time with wealthy donors to fund campaigns; it would force them to be more responsible with where they get their donations and how they spend them.

What song keeps you energized while canvassing?
Rise Against- “Prayer of the Refugee” & Fozzy- “Judas”

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your campaign and your community? What have you been doing in your community as a candidate?
My campaign was in the midst of petitioning for ballot access when this broke out. The governor then cut the number of signatures to 30 percent of the original requirement. We will thankfully be on the ballot but I am disappointed I lose that face time with the voters. My goal was to knock on thousands of doors and I will clearly have to adjust my strategy to a more online focus and that will require time and money.

In my community I have been doing primarily what everyone should be doing, STAYING HOME! Letting the nurses and doctors do their jobs is the best thing I can do right now for the community. In addition, I have been calling constituents in my neighborhood to see how people are holding up. The calls have been very positive and people really appreciate the one on one approach.

What is one takeaway you’d like to leave your constituents with?
We need a fighter in Albany, we need someone who truly understands what everyday people are going through. My opponent in the democratic primary doesn’t understand: she is a career politician who worries more about the next office she can win, more than her constituents. Its one of the reasons she got voted out of office after just one term in November.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about running for office someday?
Make sure your family is on board. If you don’t have them in your corner it’s going to be very difficult. I am lucky, my wife and children are super supportive of this endeavor.

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Learn about the work of RFScandidates and alumni in 2020.

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