I am the son of immigrants from Poland and Austria. My father came through Ellis Island in 1911 at the age of two. My dad was a commercial window washer in New York City in the 1930's and 40's. While my mom stayed home to raise the children. My father never went beyond the 8th grade but was self educated and had a deep understanding of business, economics and politics. He would often perform long Shakespearian soliloquies off the top of his head. New to this country and with an innate curiosity my father was drawn to Harlem of the era where he had many friends and business associates in the African American community. This lead to my father's joining the early civil rights struggle to let African Americans to join the New York Window Washers Union in the 1940's. Years later after he died I found a program from the Annual Union dinner in the 1950's but my dad's name was not in the program. I then found out he had kept that particular program because it was the introduction of the first African American Union officer
After two near death falls off skyscrapers my Mother insisted my father relocate to Upstate NY where the buildings were lower. First to Worcester NY (pop. 2099), which was a real culture shock after living in Brooklyn all of their lives. My mom took the chickens in and had them stay in the basement when it got too cold. There were often bear seen on the mountain and there was movie night at the library on Saturday nights. After a time my family settled in Schenectady NY.
My father instilled a strong work ethic in me by having me go with him on weekend floor maintenance jobs, where I learned to run the waxing machine and was given 15 cents per job. I remember working with him in the summers washing the windows at our local J.C. Penny's, I was thrilled to be earning 2 dollars a day. But my family also gave me a lifelong interest in current events. Political discussion over the dinner table was the norm and it was lively as my father, being a small business owner, was a Goldwater Republican and my Mom an old time New Deal Democrat. Because of them, I remember the fear during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the heartbreak when President Kennedy was assassinated and I deeply remember that terrible summer of 1968 when Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated.
In 1972 at the age of 13 I got involved in politics by marching in the inaugural Earth Day Parade and handing out buttons and bumper stickers for President Richard Nixon. After Nixon's reelection I received a lovely card from the White House thanking me, which I kept many years after he was impeached.
As I was a High School Senior I was the editor of the school newspaper during a teacher's strike. By self funding the school newspaper continued to be published and the local news media would come to us student journalists for the latest news on the strike at our school and at several other local schools that were also on strike. At the end of the year I was awarded the Colombia University Scholastic Journalist of the Year for my school.
My college years were spent following punk rock bands like the Ramones and the Clash and by mountain climbing and repelling the high peaks of the Adirondacks. More importantly, I studied under college professors that were local elected officials in NY, a CIA agent who was on leave and a former Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Out of college I worked for the NYS Department of State. As a union leader at State I had one of my proudest moments standing in front of the White House with PATCO, the air traffic controllers union, in a near riot protesting the busting of their union by the Reagan administration.
Later, I joined the early Information Technology Industry. My employer had been a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the business was located in Rensselaer Polytechnics Institute's Business Incubator Center, What I learned about technology and business there was better than any MBA. I was at a local epicenter of innovation and entrepreneurship. At 26, I owned the company and changed the name to Advanced Idea Mechanics Inc. which I "borrowed" from a group of comic book super villains. After 8 years building custom computers and performing electronic design work for Fortune 500 companies, AIM Inc. was sold to a larger better financed company. Over the next ten years I worked in post secondary education both in teaching and in Administration.
Vision problems caused me to need four eye operations. Rather than accept disability while I healed I took what work I could find. I had worked in a retail tobacco store, a record store (back in the vinyl records days) and in a department store during college and during this span I worked in a warehouse and worked with the mentally and physically disabled as a Community Living Counselor. In 2007 I could not find work and a friend from NY who had moved to Tennessee told me to come down. I came with my belongings in a Lincoln and $300 in my pocket. My first job in Tennessee was at Sears in the East Town Mall. Then had the opportunity to work in computer operations at the Financial Aid Office at Pellissippi Community College, where I became the United Campus Workers Co chair. While in that position I revealed documents showing Administration's movement to out sourcing of college and university jobs.
I had started my college career in New York but as it sometimes does circumstances changed and so I had not finished. Once in Tennessee I decided it was time to finish what I had started. I went back to school and in 2011; I received my Bachelors of Science degree. In 2014, I received my Masters of Public Administration, with a concentration in Public Finance Management. from East Tennessee State University. During this time I interned with the University of Tennessee's Institute for Public Service and volunteered at Second Harvest food bank.
I have 2 grown children who still live in Schenectady. My son works for the State of New York and my daughter is a graduate or Cortland State. I met my current wife in 2007 and we married in 2009. We are the proud parents of a 3 cats named Missy, Morty and Maggie. I enjoy NFL Football and I am a fantasy football league commissioner. I like to work on older Swedish cars when I have time. And I'll need a job after the election if I don't win.
So I guess the answer to the question who am I is this. I am a ex New Yorker with humble beginnings, I have been a technology business owner and I have been a minimum wage worker. I know hard work for little pay. I have been a teacher, but I have also been taught by some of the best in the country. I'm not afraid of hard work no matter the job, I have been involved in politics for most of my life, I am a father, a husband and I would like to be your State Senator in the fifth Distinct of Tennessee.