All politics, it has been said, is local. And if you ask Anthony Foxx ’96, starting local is a great way to get into politics; in 2005, he was elected to the city council in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., and in 2009, he became mayor. Foxx appeared on a panel at the April 7 NYU Law Forum, which asked, “Should You Go Into Politics? (And How?).” Joining him were Robert Straniere ’65, a former Republican member of the New York State Assembly from Staten Island, and Erin Scharff ’11, a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, who has worked on a number of political campaigns, including for Barack Obama's in Iowa. Deborah Ellis, assistant dean for the Public Interest Law Center, moderated the discussion.
Anyone thinking of entering politics needs to have a passion for it, the panelists agreed. Without that, it’s difficult to withstand the extraordinary demands of running for, and holding, office; the often rough and tumble nature of the environment; and the toll it can take on your family. “There’s going to be an industry there that counters everything you say and everything you do,” Foxx said. “It’s a pretty brutal process.” Fundraising, Straniere noted, has become a distasteful constant of political life. And, since even the best politicians face an uncertain future, the panelists cautioned that it's always good to have a back-up plan. Before he entered politics, Foxx clerked, worked for the Justice Department, was a House Judiciary Committee staffer, and was a litigator at a law firm. “Have your professional life in a place where, if you aren’t elected, you have someplace else to be happy,” he said.
Watch the full discussion (1 hr 13 min):
Posted April 13, 2010