Political rookie Jason Watson, 33, was meant to be a placeholder – just a name on a list until a real Democratic candidate decided to take on eight-term Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park).
When no one stepped up, Watson accepted the challenge.
“I just think there needs to be changes in terms of local government and how it’s viewed,” he said. “Politicians are so blinded by partisanship, their own self interest, they are not willing to listen. I think so much potential progress is stifled in local government because they have to vote on party lines.”
The 9th District seat Watson is pursuing includes Bellerose Terrace, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, North New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Westbury, Williston Park, East Williston, Mineola and Carle Place.
Watson’s top four issues are the lack of affordable housing for middle income families, young people, and older residents, “blinding, partisan stubbornness” across all political parties, maintaining services without increasing taxes, and bringing back small, local businesses.
Born and raised in Albertson, Watson is a program coordinator for Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism, where he was hired right out of Quinnipiac University 12 years ago.
He has been married five years and has no children. He said too many young families have been priced out of Nassau County and are politically disengaged.
“People my age that can’t even buy a house in any neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a cyclical problem. People feel like they’re not represented, so why bother to vote on anything?”
He said he would bring to the Legislature a young, middle class perspective.
“My dad’s an electrician in the city,” he said. “My mom’s worked part time jobs after raising us.”
He said many of the legislators have “completely different backgrounds,” from his own, holding down jobs as lawyers and financial planners.
Although he has “absolutely no previous experience,” he said he stays abreast of current events and in his job has to deal with budgets, make important decisions, and implement policy.
“I don’t have a campaign committee, finance or anything,” he said. “It isn’t the typical campaign. It is just me returning calls.”