For some New Yorkers, the mid-twenties are a time of exploration. They may use their undergraduate degrees to create entrepreneurship ventures, while others struggle to find their niche and teeter through the corporate world.
At the age of 26, Jarret Freeman is leveraging his career to become the youngest GOP candidate in New York’s history to run for the State Senate. In November, Freeman will challenge the incumbent, Sen. Leroy Comrie, for the 14th District seat in Queens that comprises all or parts of Cambria Heights, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Jamaica, St. Albans and Rosedale.
“Queens is the heartbeat of New York,” Freeman said. “Queens is so diverse and different. It has fueled [a] desire to help me understand the world beyond myself.”
Currently Freeman is a representative for the United Nations for Pathways to Peace and an executive liaison at College and Community Fellowship, an initiative that helps formerly incarcerated women continue college by providing financial services and mentoring.
Juggling several positions is not an easy task, but Freeman manages the workload with a campaign team of childhood friends, college buddies and communication professionals. “Is it stressful? Yes. Is it tiring? Yes, but it is all worth it,” Freeman said. “I see the value and need to represent our community. I don’t see the disadvantage in sacrificing sleep for my community to improve.”
Reserving a seat in office, however, was not the first dream of the senatorial candidate. In an academic program offered by the Martin Luther School in Queens, Freeman studied blueprints and design. He later majored in architectural engineering and international relations at Penn State University.
“I always valued understanding and learning the world,” Freeman said. “I was fascinated by different buildings and what makes them stand … they all hold a story.”
The former Penn State collegiate wrestler has challenged many opponents on a wrestling mat—now he is looking to transfer the lessons he has learned to the State Senate. “When things get tough and challenging, you stay in there,” Freeman said. “What you do as an individual impacts the entire team.”
The Queen’s native has faced some challenges in this election, including the challenge that he is running as a Republican in a largely Democratic state. “New York is a blue state,” Freeman said regarding the state’s political stance. “There are many people that I have come across that disregard what I have to say … because I am a Republican.” He continued, “It’s a challenge because I have to educate people to understand who I am as an individual and as a person. It’s a lot more than just a party.”
As he navigates the political realm and searches for his voice in a state arena, Freeman said being young is an advantage in this election. “Many people are tired of those who are entrenched in politics and have been in office for so long and have not seen improvement,” Freeman said. “I see my youth as something I can leverage. It is what makes me unique and different.”
When the polls open this fall, Freeman wants to give the youth in his community a voice that will surpass election year. “Their concerns will be heard; their voice will continue beyond November,” he declared.