Meet Colin J. Schmitt: The CUA Alumni Representing the Empire State

By Duane Paul Murphy

The Catholic University of America may be well known for its close knit, small town like campus community located in the urban metropolis of Washington, D.C. However, it is also becoming notable for producing familiar names in politics all across the country. From Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. and former New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu to former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, these leaders have made strides not only in their home states, but also in the nation’s capital. One Catholic University alumni from the Class of 2012 is already joining this group as a young state legislator in his home state.

Last year in 2018, 27-year old Colin J. Schmitt was elected to the New York State Assembly in the 99th Assembly District. The state assembly district represent parts of Orange and Rockland counties, which are located in the Hudson River Valley. Schmitt defeated his Democratic Party opponent, former pilot Matthew Retting, by almost 53% of the popular vote.

“I am a lifelong New Yorker who has always felt service to others is a noble calling”, said Schmitt in an interview with The Tower. “New York has so much to offer, but sadly the high cost of living and decreasing opportunities and freedoms has forced many to leave this state. I believe we can turn things around and that someone must stand up for all New Yorkers, especially those in the Hudson Valley.”

This is not Schmitt’s first-time running for state office in his home state. In 2012, he lost to Goshen Mayor Kyle Roddey in a Republican Party primary for that same district, and again in 2016 to former assemblyman James Skoufis in the general election. Before Schmitt’s campaign intentions ever began, he began his career in politics by founding and chairing a nonpartisan government reform political action committee called New Dawn NY that advocated for policies related to ethics reform, budget reform and job creation. After graduating from Catholic University, he became a staff member to former New York state senator Greg Ball in Albany.

While New York is a liberal Democratic Party majority state, Schmitt often shows his bipartisan streak by sponsoring a bill that provided tax relief for furloughed federal workers during the last government shutdown.

“This was a perfect example of how vital it is to find common ground on a wide range of issues in order to properly serve my district and the state as a whole,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt had encouraging words for young people who want to get involved politically.

“Do not take no for an answer,” he said. “Many people will try to block you and stand in your way. If you have a strong belief in what you are doing never, ever give up. Usually the people snipping at you are envious of what you are trying to achieve.”

Schmitt is not the only CUA alumni who is involved in state politics. 26-year old Ryan M. Fecteau is a member of the Maine House of Representative, represented the city of Biddeford. Fecteau, class of 2014, is the second youngest member of the legislature and the youngest openly gay state representative in the United States.

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