As a 22-year-old California native, I never would have thought that I would be participating in a campaign race in Northern New York. In fact, I hadn’t given much thought about what lies between New York City and the Canadian border.

All of that changed quickly after enlisting in the U.S. Army, completing my training as an infantryman and being shipped directly to Fort Drum. During my time in the Army, I met and married a beautiful woman who called the north country home. And just like that, this wonderful place has become my home as well.

I hadn’t always been a Democratic supporter. In fact, I was a registered Republican and had voted for Donald Trump in the California primary when I was 18 years old.

During my time in the Army, my views began to change. I saw the Charlottesville riots in 2017; I saw those hate groups marching alongside people waving their Confederate flags and Trump Make America Great Again flags. It became clear to me that they had been emboldened by far right Republicans and the president. After leaving the Army and starting college, I became more educated about the existential threat that climate change poses to my future and the future of my possible children.

Fast forward to 2020, a year marked by COVID-19. The pandemic has revealed the devastation that science denial can bring. I decided that I wanted to make a more direct impact on the political system of this country.

I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to intern with Alex Hammond’s campaign for the great 116th Assembly District of New York. Compared to the opposition, Alex’s policies make sense and are based on science; he isn’t afraid to recognize the threat that climate change poses, and his support for a carbon tax is a giant leap in the right direction. Alex isn’t afraid to stand up for social justice.

He marches proudly with Black Lives Matter.

At the same time, as a first lieutenant in the National Guard, Alex understands what it means to serve the community and he stands with our law enforcement. Most importantly, Alex’s campaign is all about unity, not fighting. This is the heart of Alex Hammond’s campaign: bringing people together, regardless of party or politics.

Bryan Parker

Carthage

The writer is a U.S. Army veteran and student at Jefferson Community College.

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