ORANGEBURG, N.Y. -- Joe Chabot wanted to talk about a lot of issues while at Hogan's Diner in Orangeburg, but three kept coming up: how to keep people from leaving Rockland, how to make it affordable to continue living here, and the need to bring jobs to the county.
These issues are the foundation of the 25-year-old Republican's campaign. Chabot plans to challenge incumbent Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D) in the 97th legislative district this November.
At issue is whether the state is functioning the way it should, whether people are happy and assured about their future's. Over coffee Chabot described a Facebook post he recently saw from a friend who announced he was moving to South Carolina to pursue a new career.
"He said there's more opportunity down there. That's not okay. We need to fight to keep our talent in the state of New York whether that is young talent or experienced talent," Chabot said, adding that 500,000 people have left the state in the last five years.
Chabot comes from a military family: his mother was an attorney in the military (JAG) and his father is a West Point grad and was a colonel in the military. He grew up in Tappan and attended Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell.
From there Chabot went to Iona College and received a degree in Business Management. After spending a period of time in sales, Chabot currently works as a clerk with the Rockland County Board of Elections.
Part of Chabot's vision involves attracting companies in the tech and computer industries to Rockland, which starts with creative zoning that is conducive to the needs of these businesses.
And his pitch for a Rockland as the place to do this starts with its aesthetics-Chabot described the county as an "oasis"-it's history, and it's accessibility to the city.
Residents pay a lot in taxes, and the money that goes to Albany isn't being equitably redistributed and invested back in the Lower Hudson Valley, something that doesn't sit well with Chabot.
"At the end of the day, a change in Albany starts in Rockland County," he said.