By Bryan Goodman, Political Director and Head Writer for Elections
Art by Rhea Da Costa, Resident Artist
Read this article and more in our 2023 winter edition, on campus now!
It is not often that college students run for elected office in the towns where they go to school. However, in the city of Binghamton, this has happened before and is happening again. Binghamton University undergraduate Chance Fiorisi is running for the Binghamton City Council during the 2023 election cycle. He is running in the third district which is located on Binghamton’s West Side. Fiorisi is also the president of Binghamton University’s College Democrats chapter. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with the candidate about his background, motivation to run, qualifications, and the policy issues he is campaigning on.
Fiorisi, a sophomore at Binghamton University studying political science, aspires to stay at the university to receive his Master of Public Administration. He is originally from Dutchess County, New York. His father is a painter, and his mother is a dietary aide who he has worked with when home on breaks. Fiorisi indicated that it is difficult for people like him to run for office for multiple reasons, but namely because he is young, which means he does not have a lot of money to spend on the campaign. He also does not have a set career at the moment because he is a student and does not come from wealth. He placed emphasis on the fact that he is a student and could be focusing all of his energy on academics or partying every weekend. Running a campaign is a demanding task, and it will require great discipline from Fiorisi and his team.
Fiorisi also acknowledged that, since he is a student running for office, his candidacy may not be the most appealing to voters within the city. In response to that, he said, “… I know I’m running for city council simply because I believe that we need to bring vigor and a new breath of fresh air to city council.” A pro-choice advocate, Fiorisi initially got the idea to run for city council last May when the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision was leaked.
Two key issues Fiorisi discussed during our time together had to do with the recent re-zoning laws on the West Side of Binghamton, and the city council’s redistricting, which Fiorisi called “an example of extreme political gerrymandering.” The student-dominant West Side housing has been an issue that has attracted predatory landlords while also pricing out permanent residents in the area, leading to constant tenant turnover in this area of the city.
He plans to run in the newly drawn third district. This district is currently represented by Angela Riley (D), but she will not be running for re-election in 2023, creating a vacancy on the city council. Due to this vacancy, an incumbency advantage will not be in play. This city council seat will be an open contest, leaving room for political outsiders to come in, captivate the electorate, and unexpectedly win an election. This poses a risk to Fiorisi’s candidacy, as he could not be received well by the local electorate, allowing what is expected to be a safe seat for Democrats to fall into the hands of the Republicans on the city council.
Current District Map
New District Map
Many young adults and college-aged students live within this district, allowing Fiorisi to build stronger connections with the residents he would be representing. However, there may be some difficulties regarding the electorate within the district due to students that are registered to vote at an outdated address from the previous academic year, not registered to vote in Binghamton, or not registered to vote at all.
Fiorisi is running as a Democrat, and his involvement through Binghamton College Democrats has helped him build connections and position himself well for a run for city council. I asked him if he had been in contact with the Broome County Democrats and the Binghamton Democrats regarding his candidacy. As the president of Binghamton College Democrats, Fiorisi has a seat on the Broome County Democratic Committee. He also sat down with members of the Binghamton Democratic Committee and discussed necessary changes in candidate recruitment. For local elections, the committees typically engage in an outreach process to field individuals interested in running for office. He said that his intent to run for office was generally well received and accepted, and he is very thankful to the city committee for being so cordial to him.
When asked about his coalition-building and electoral strategy, as well as its reliance on students, Fiorisi responded that he is not just running a city council campaign for students—he is running to represent every inhabitant of district three. He acknowledges that, while the district has a student-heavy population, permanent residents and families are living within this district as well. His canvassing strategy includes knocking on every door within the district throughout the summertime if he faces a Democratic primary opponent and picking right back up again in the fall as the general election approaches. Fiorisi displayed confidence that he could win the Democratic nomination for the seat.
When asked about the biggest issues facing the city, the housing crisis was at the top of his list. He points out that the city’s population has been in a steady decline and that the city government is not doing enough for people who want to move to Binghamton and build their lives and families here. The lack of affordable housing prices out potential residents and drives away families looking for somewhere to settle down and start a life.
Fiorisi’s main platform consists of ensuring roads are built, focusing on crime, and making sure local businesses are growing and have the potential to thrive. He recognizes that there needs to be proper incentive structures for the businesses in the area to succeed. When I asked about his position on police funding, Fiorisi said, “I just want to make it clear that I, specifically, do not full-on support, just the notion of defunding the police. I don’t like the whole idea that goes behind that.” Continuing on the topic of police reform, Fiorisi stated: “The main issue I have with talking about police is that we need police reform, we need to make sure that police officers are well connected within the community, and we need to make sure that the community isn’t afraid of police officers.” He acknowledged that this concept goes much deeper than the city council’s politics and governance and that it requires time and commitment to achieve such goals. As our discussion on crime continued, it started to shift towards some root causes of crime, including the lack of affordable housing as well as unstable sources of income. Fiorisi believes that one-step solutions—such as adding more police officers or providing other singular mechanisms of relief—are unlikely to result in consistently lower crime rates in the city.
In terms of general campaign strategy, Fiorisi has emphasized the importance of being on the ground in the district rather than building a community of support solely online. This is important because, while some portions of his potential constituency may be online—younger, college-aged students—the permanent residents in the district may not be as present on social media platforms where Fiorisi is advertising himself. He hopes to knock on every door at least twice, possibly three times.
Continuing on the topic of social media, when asked about how a politician’s presence online may impact their decision-making, Fiorisi emphasized that he wants to be as accessible to his constituents as possible. The importance of making decisions for your constituents and what is in their best interest after weighing all of the potential positives and negatives of certain actions is a value he hopes to employ if elected.
I asked Fiorisi what his priorities would be during his first year on the council if elected. He mentioned the redevelopment/repurposing of an abandoned plaza off of Main Street to attract new businesses and to “revive the community.” He is also focused on fixing and removing potholes that are notorious across the West Side of Binghamton. When asked about particular business incentives and the extraction of money out of the local economy by large national companies, he expressed dissatisfaction with the idea of big corporations coming into Binghamton and buying up the spaces that local businesses may otherwise be able to utilize. He mentioned the potential for tax incentives, partnerships with municipal agencies, and whatever else is necessary to attract economic growth.
I wrapped up the interview by asking Fiorisi what he hopes his lasting legacy would be if elected to serve on the city council. He said he hopes to be remembered for doing everything possible to get his constituents’ needs heard and their voices brought to the table. He wants them to feel heard, loved, and appreciated by the city council.
Fiorisi also has an incredible opportunity for wordplay off his first name—Chance—for a brilliant campaign slogan, and his communications team has produced several. The current leading contender is “A Chance for Binghamton.”
Leading the way for a new era of political leaders from Generation Z has been a hot topic since the 2022 midterms saw the election of the first Gen Z congressman, Maxwell Frost (D–FL). Chance Fiorisi has an opportunity to build off of Frost’s momentum and propel Generation Z further into the most important discussions in communities across the country.
Bryan Goodman is currently the Political Director for Happy Medium. In this role, he consults with writers and the editing team about specific pieces that could potentially be hot-button issues. Bryan also serves as Happy Medium’s Head Writer for Elections. He is a recent graduate of Binghamton University’s Masters of Public Administration program. Bryan is from Valhalla, Westchester County, NY, where he attended Westchester Community College for two years before transferring to BU to complete his undergraduate studies in political science. Bryan is passionate about judicial politics and a variety of social/economic issues. Bryan hopes to one day be fortunate enough to positively impact as many lives as possible.
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