Person to Watch: Elan Weinberger

Well-spoken 18-year-old named new chairman of Rockland County Young Republicans

BY ALLAN GOLDSTEIN

In what promises to be a tightly contested election year, the Rockland County Young Republicans have a new man at the helm. Eighteen-year-old Elan Weinberger of New City assumed the role of club chairman on June 27 and wants to get more young people involved in the electoral process.

“In the 2010 election less than 20 percent of people 18-24 turned out. The youth vote can be critical in elections,“ said Weinberger. He added, “Our future is at stake and that is a major reason that I became a Republican. I am preparing a presentation for summer schools and summer camps that supports the importance of young voters…a lot of people who are my age don’t understand the key issues.”

The club holds social events to get young people of the GOP political persuasion together and active in helping the party, if they are interested. Weinberger noted the Young Republicans, who are open to Republicans up to the age of 40, are in the midst of a reorganization process because older members have moved on to new jobs, gotten married or moved out of the area.

Weinberger says his interest in the political process and his love of country runs deep. “I knew for a long time that I wanted to get into politics. I always have felt very patriotic. As a child I wanted to be president of the United States. I believe in this country. I want to find a way to serve and give something back to this country and do what is best for the American people.”

His initial foray into politics came while attending political fundraisers with his father Jeff, a Republican district leader in Clarkstown, and his uncle Stuart, who has been a Republican state committeemen for the past 20 years. “At meetings I realized that I was the youngest guy there,” he said, explaining how he came to seek out the Young Republicans club.

Weinberger began his education at the Solomon Schechter School in Hartsdale and is a graduate of Clarkstown North High School in the dual enrollment honors program held in conjunction with Rockland Community College. He plans to start his college career next month at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

During his high school years he was the president of the Metropolitan New York Region of United Synagogue Youth where he “gained experience in leadership and administration.” He held the same position with the Model United Nations. He also served as an intern for Congressman Eliot Engel and is presently the county campaign coordinator for State Senator Bill Larkin in the 39th district.

He sums up his political philosophy by categorizing himself as a “Rockefeller Republican” referring to Nelson Rockefeller, former Republican governor of New York. “I am a conservative but more moderate on social issues. I look at the deficit on a national and local level and, in my mind, if we don’t tackle these problems now than it is essentially me and my generation who will have to tackle them in the future. It is unfair to have to come into the game with such a disadvantage.”

The chairman of the New York State Young Republicans, Giovanni Scarangi of Nanuet, formerly led the county organization and commented, “This is a great opportunity for Elan to step in right now. He is the perfect guy. Every two or three years we need a rebuilding effort because the core group gets older and moves on with their lives. I am going to Binghamton to work on my Ph.D., other members are getting married and going to grad school.”

He notes that the Young Republicans club in any county stands for Republican and conservative principles, provides grass roots support to help party candidates on the county and local levels and introduces conservative ideals to young people. Scarangi added, “The club builds alliances and gives young people the opportunity to be introduced to the concept of less government and lower taxes.”

Scaringi has a theory as to why the youth vote was so poor in the last mid-term election. He said, “I think that a major reason for the low turnout is that we do not teach civics in our schools anymore. From the educational perspective, young people are not knowledgeable about government.”

Vincent Reda, Republican Party county chairman added his support for Weinberger. He said, “I have known Elan for many years. He had been serving as interim chairman for our county club. He came up with a program to more effectively register young people to vote and the best time to register new voters is during a presidential year. Elan also impressed a number of people as county campaign coordinator for Senator Bill Larkin.”.