As balloons and “I Voted” buttons celebrated election night across the state, Alex Hammond ’18 unfolded a torn-up piece of paper that would determine the next four years of his life. It read, “Alex: 465. Sandy: 387.”
For the past four months, Hammond, an ILR senior, had been campaigning in his hometown of Waddington, New York for the position of town supervisor. After a spontaneous decision to run for office, Hammond dedicated his final fall semester to knocking on door after door, engaging Waddington voters while raising awareness about his goals and run for office.
On Tuesday night, Hammond’s campaigning ended with the news that he won.
Admittedly anxious and excited about his town supervisorship to come, Hammond has gained confidence since his victory.
“We went door to door, we gave our message out and we drove that message home. And the people of Waddington have spoken by electing me,” Hammond said.
Slated to take office this coming January, Hammond, at the age of 21, will become the youngest active town supervisor in New York history, tying only with Nicky B. Woerner of Ulster, New York who also served as town supervisor from 2005-09.
And how will he take on his town supervisorship while finishing his last semester at Cornell?
Hammond has a plan: he will only take classes between Monday and Wednesday in the upcoming semester so that he can dedicate the rest of the week to Waddington.
Although Hammond anticipates challenges arising in the future as a result of his youth, he is prepared to take on the leadership role with the hurdles that will accompany it.
One of the difficulties Hammond anticipates will be leading the town board and its older members. However, Hammond believes that collaboration is still possible while maintaining his credibility.
“I want it to be a collaborative board that works together but at the end of the day, the buck does stop here. I was elected town supervisor and I have to take supervisory roles but I think we can work together and listen to each other,” he said.
However, just as Hammond recognizes that his age and political inexperience may pose challenges, he also thinks that they offer him a single, unique advantage: a fresh perspective.
“I’m going to go in there, keep an open mind and bring a new perspective — a different generation’s perspective,” Hammond said.
In fact, he believes that perspective will be a strategic key in accomplishing his main goals for office.
Namely, he wants promote Waddington’s economic growth and development by rebranding Waddington’s image, thus attracting college students from nearby universities and new businesses to invest in the town.
“People my age still live in the town, people who are under 30 still live in the town. How do we get more people — people like myself — to Waddington, to reinvest in the community?” he said.
By attracting students to take advantage of Waddington’s beautiful waterfront and environment, Hammond hopes to advertise Waddington as the place for students to get together, a move that he believes will also attract businesses to the area.
“Businesses that are in Canton and Potsdam, where those four colleges are, if they move to Waddington, they’d be paying a third of their current rent so if we can bring the same kids who buy that stuff here, we also bring the businesses.”
In just two months, Hammond will take office and will look to deliver on his promise of a more open, inclusive and active leadership.
“I ran on the factor of being open, being honest and bringing that new perspective and I intend on it,” he said. “I want to be very active in the community, to talk to people, to make Waddington a place that can help everyone.”