If age is only a number, Steve Meyer is living proof. At 22, this young Democrat has accomplished so much in such a short time and he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
So it seems only natural that Meyer has decided to run for the New York State Assembly for District 146, representing Amherst and Pendleton. And after a spirited primary, he's the Democrat nominee up against incumbent Republican Ray Walter.
Meyer was born and raised in Amherst, New York and graduated from Williamsville East High School in 2010. From there he went to Washington to earn his bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations from American University in 2013.
During his time at American, Meyer built a pretty impressive resume working in public affairs.
"You are in the nation’s capital and have so many good opportunities there. I worked on the Hill for members of Congress and I worked for the National Association of Counties," Meyer said. "At NAC I got to work with county executives across the country to come up with ideas on how to consolidate county services, increase value of services, increase efficiency, and reduce costs."
While working for the NAC, Meyer wrote reference books on development system reform, business development, and corporation reform programs for county executives. He studied abroad in Brussels, Germany and worked for the International Office of Covington and Burling.
But even after traveling, Meyer knew Buffalo was the place he wanted settle down. Many Western New York youth have left for greener pastures, he knew he wanted to make a difference in the Queen City.
Now Meyer is ready to dive headfirst into his campaign to help the community that he loves so much.
"I have a pretty new face around here but frankly, I think that’s the way politics should work," Meyer said. "I think it should be an average person doing what is good for the community."
"I'm not doing this for personal reasons," he said. "I'm doing this for the community."
He may be young – and he claims he's the youngest candidate in New York - but Meyer notes there are some pretty good advantages to being new to the game.
"Because I'm so young, I don't have any of the political baggage a lot professional politicians have. I haven't had time to goof off," Meyer said. "And none of my friends are lobbyists, I've never been invited to sit in on a corporate board meeting." From his perspective, it's a clean slate and a fresh start for constituents.
Besides his age, Meyer has taken another step that may distinguish him from his competitors: He refuses to accept campaign donations from corporations and lobbyists. That may be another first: He's likely the only candidate in the state to do this.
"I made this decision really early on, before I even decided to run for office, and it wasn’t even a question. I know that I'm missing out on a lot of money but the reason I did it is because we deserve that kind of standard," Meyer said. "New York has the highest taxes in the nation and our state legislators get paid the second highest salaries and what are we getting in return?"
In return, Meyer thinks citizens should be getting representatives that will hold themselves accountable. He believes a good step in that direction would be to refuse special interest money.
"We work very hard for our money and I don't think an election should be won by someone who thinks they can buy it," Meyer said. "An election should be won by hard work. If you’re willing to put in the hard work you are going to do what’s best for the community."
He is also the founder and director of the State Legislative Awareness Project, a Web site he started because New York State has lacked accessibility. The site works to educate citizens of the New York State Assembly and gives them access to anything their representative does. And according to Meyer, New Yorkers need to keep a closer eye on their legislators.
"We pay the highest taxes in the country, we pay our legislators through the roof, but I don’t think we are getting enough in return. A lot of people don't know who our representatives are," Meyer said. "Why aren't they voting on common sense pieces of legislation? Why are they treating their job like it's a part time gig with good benefits? I get very angry thinking of how much we pay and how little we get in return from our representatives."
If elected, Meyer plans to work on job creation, tax reform, education, and government ethics. It's what the people want, he said.
"These priorities are based on what I believe and what polling tells us are the most important issues to voters," Meyer said. "Regardless of what you believe you should be voting with the general will of the people. Even if it's contradictory to what you believe in, you should be voting with them."
Meyer also is a strong supporter of going green. He considers himself an environmentalist and wants to maintain the state ban fracking.
"I think fracking is a boom and bust industry and the people of New York deserve better than that," Meyer said. "I believe we should invest more money into renewable energy. The green industry can’t be outsourced and the windmills aren’t going to pack up when the well goes dry. The wind is always going to be there."
Meyer may be pursuing large goals but he wants to be regarded as an just average guy who believes in honesty and hard work.
"When I say that I'm going to be an honest representative, I mean it. When I say I'm going to be an accessible representative, I mean it," Meyer said. "I give every voter my personal phone number. I want the people to know that I'm actually going to deliver on what I promise."
Though he may be young, Meyer certainly offers a fresh perspective. Running against Ray Walter, he has a high hill to climb. But two things are certain: Steve Meyer will climb, and this won't be the last Western New York hears from him.