News From Masters
While serving as a U.S. Senate page this summer, junior David Oks became dismayed by what he describes as the inaction he witnessed in the nation’s Capitol. So he is taking action – by running for mayor of the Village of Ardsley.
David, 16, has a sophisticated campaign operation and staff behind him. Ten Masters students and alumnae/i are working diligently to get the Ardsley native elected to the part-time mayoral post. He is running against incumbent Mayor Peter R. Porcino, who has served in that role for nearly six years. Ardsley is a Westchester County community of about 4,500 residents.
“I'm running for mayor of Ardsley because I think that Ardsley residents deserve a real choice, for the first time in many years, over how their village ought to be led,” David says. “A long series of worrying signs, from the costly Ashford Avenue bridge project to soaring property tax rates, show that our leadership is lacking. It's my contention that new leadership, leadership with a grasp of issues affecting the average Ardsley resident, will appeal to the voters of the village.”
His decision to run for office was inspired in part by his three-week stint as a Senate page in June. “I saw an institution paralyzed, and I realized that a new way of politics, a more positive way, was a necessity for national survival,” he says. “It must begin at the local level. Thus I'm running as a candidate emphasizing solutions-oriented, citizen-centered politics – a new way of doing things.”
With a campaign slogan of “Oks for Mayor: Believe in Ardsley,” David has a well-developed platform that focuses on such issues as taxes, spending, traffic, the environment, and downtown revitalization. And, of course, he has created a Facebook page to promote his candidacy.
Before launching his campaign, David says, he checked with the Westchester County Board of Elections and learned that there apparently is no minimum age requirement to run for mayor in Ardsley. If elected, he would be the youngest mayor of an incorporated municipality in American history, David says, citing research done by senior Henry Williams, who is serving as David’s campaign chair and chief of staff.
The “Oks for Mayor” staff also includes:
- Elijah Emery ’19, director of communications
- Ahnaf Taha ’18, director of technology
- Miranda Luiz, ’18, director of canvassing
- Alexandra Bentzien ’19, director of fundraising
- Nick Moore ’19, senior communications counselor
- Vincent Alban ’19, deputy director of communications for optics
- Benjamin Church ’16, director of data science
- Andrew Ciacci ’16, legal advisor
- Daniel Bring ’17, chief strategist
The support of his large, dedicated campaign staff makes it possible for him to juggle being a full-time student with running for office, David says, adding, “Most of the campaigning will be done after school and on weekends.”
The staff members, meanwhile, have a time-saving tool to use as they court votes for their candidate: an algorithm created by Ben Church.
To obtain the 75 signatures needed to get David’s name on the ballot, the young political team canvassed door-to-door in Ardsley in August. David says he received the most support from three groups: immigrants, voters either under age 25 or over age 70, and residents who lived in smaller houses compared to those who lived in larger ones. Applying these findings to a list of registered voters, Ben developed a list of Ardsley addresses that the group will target as it campaigns over the next two months.
If elected mayor, David is confident that he can fulfill two demanding roles. “Mostly, I would have to attend meetings,” as well as the occasional ribbon-cutting ceremony, he says. “It would be like working a part-time job in addition to being a student.”
“David is an extraordinary person, and we are proud of his tremendous initiative,” says Head of School Laura Danforth. David’s campaign is an independent endeavor, not sponsored by The Masters School. “We encourage our students to take on meaningful challenges consistent with our mission ‘to strive, to dare, to do – to be a power for good in the world.’ We wish David all the best and hope that this experience will be a positive example and reflection of our School community,” Danforth adds.