Within ten minutes of meeting Seth Warner, I got into an argument with him. It was freshman orientation and something he said struck me as naïve, so I summoned all of my seventeen-year old sophistication and, I’m sure, made a total fool of myself. I was on the debate team throughout high school and was used to having intense arguments with people who knew a lot about the issues, and I recognized that in Seth. But debate didn’t prepare me to talk to Seth, because he wasn’t trying to win our argument, and he wasn’t trying to bring me down either. The most surprising thing about Seth, and one of the reasons I’m proud to call him my best friend today, is that Seth listens. Because he thinks he might be wrong, and more importantly, because he cares about what other people have to say.
Seth is running for Dutchess County Legislator. It’s a decision he didn’t take lightly, and he moved off of Vassar’s campus in order to feel more a part of the community that he wants to represent. Seth is a smart, motivated guy who genuinely cares about the issues, and about us, the voters. I understand if that sounds hokey, or unbelievable.
Often when people who don’t know Seth very well are talking to me about him, they’ll mention that he came off strangely, very enthusiastic and friendly to a fault. They think he must have been being insincere, and that’s when I get to correct them. The reason Seth seems enthusiastic every single time he meets someone (and as a politician he meets tons of people each week) is because he is actually enthusiastic to meet everyone. He isn’t pretending, and there isn’t a difference between “Campaign Seth” and “Regular Seth.” He’s actually interested, engaged and motivated to help other people. If this all sounds sounds hokey that’s because we’re used to politicians who don’t really care, and get into politics for the wrong reasons. If it sounds unbelievable, it’s because Seth is unbelievable.
I’m not really the most political person. I have strong opinions on many issues, sure, but when it comes to actually taking action, I have a spotty track record. I’ve never worked for a campaign, I’ve only voted in one election, and when it came to the local issues, I had no idea what I was voting on. I wouldn’t be writing this column for any Democrat running for County Legislator, or necessarily even for any friend of mine running for office.
Seeing the passion that drives Seth to make a difference and make a change for the better in our county has forced me to take an interest. And I’ve realized that it matters to me what happens here, where I’ve been living for the past three years.
Seth understood it from the get-go; if we want to make a better world, like so many Vassar students do, there’s no better place to do it than right here. Seth wants to focus on a couple issues in particular. If we’re going to change our world, we need someone we can trust working in our government. Seth is that person for me, and he’s that person for everyone else in Dutchess.
It’s good that we’ve got him, because right now is a pivotal moment for Dutchess County. The Republican-controlled County Legislature has proposed a massive expansion of the county jail, which will end up costing our community $200 million. Seth thinks that we can do more with that kind of money than build a large box for people to spend their lives in.
Instead of expanding the county jail, Seth favors expanding programs and initiatives that can aid communities and help prevent people from going down the sorts of paths that lead them into the criminal justice system in the first place. This will help to prevent incarceration by helping the community as opposed to simply increasing the prison capacity.
Seth also favors an increase in recycling, and revolutionizing the way we deal with waste in our county. Right now most of the waste in Dutchess County is incinerated, which is environmentally suspect and prevents us from unlocking waste’s full potential. An increase in funding for composting and recycling can make us into a greener, more cost-effective community, something that Seth will work hard to accomplish.
Seth once told me that he liked riding on airplanes because it gave him a few hours when he could relax and didn’t have to do any work. When I said he could do that on the ground too, he seemed incredulous.
Why would he stop working to help people unless he were floating in sky and unable to do anything else?
When Seth gets something in his head, he doesn’t quit. If you vote for him on November 5th, I can promise he’ll work for you and he won’t quit. It’s actually one of his more irritating qualities as a friend, to be honest.
I’ve wanted to do something related to comedy since I was in high school, but I never had the courage. When I mentioned this off-hand to Seth at the beginning of last year, he insisted that I audition for the campus comedy groups. In fact, he wouldn’t shut up about it. He got me to attend the comedy preview show, and when I wanted to slip out without signing up, he wouldn’t let me leave. I signed up and now I’m doing stand-up comedy with ComedyNormative, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Seth wouldn’t let me leave Sanders Auditorium that night because, even when I didn’t believe in myself, Seth believed in me. He has a long track record of supporting his friends and family just like he supported me, and I know he’ll do the same as Legislator. Seth Warner believes in Dutchess County. And I believe in Seth Warner.
—Noah Rocklin ’14 is an English major.