Last fall, 23-year-old New Paltz resident and Marist College graduate Daniel Torres was elected to the New Paltz Town Board as a councilman.
Torres, who graduated from New Paltz High School in 2009, said he values the community where he grew up and wanted to give back.
“People give back to the community in various ways,” Torres said. “Some people volunteer, some join the military. For me, that was running for office.”
Torres’ role as councilman entails helping to create the budget for the town and to act as a legislature on behalf of Ulster County. He said he views his position as a way to be a community advocate — one who helps his neighbors regardless of the situation.
He’s also taken on the responsibility of the town’s communication and utilizing social media, which he said is a useful tool because it fosters open-government.
Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said he has known Torres from when he was an intern in his office, working on his third re-election campaign. While working as an intern Torres was involved in writing and doing public research for Auerbach. For the campaign, he was a field coordinator.
He said he views Torres as a multi-talented person.
“Seeing Dan really in both worlds I recognized that he had the skill and ability to make the big decisions, handle the tough problems, handle himself and convey his message well to the public and truly be the representative on the town board that has the ear of the public,” Auerbach said.
Being 23-years-old, Torres said he brings a unique perspective that’s important to be represented in government.
“I bring something from the perspective from someone who is younger and would like to start a family and I see the challenges that make it hard for someone my age to do that,” Torres said.
Torres said New Paltz is a unique community and is accepting of different kinds of people. He said he believes this contributed to his election, and said he thinks citizens in a lot of other towns would have not voted for a 23-year-old candidate.
Auerbach said he doesn’t believe people should be paying attention to Torres’ age because of how talented he is.
“I think youth is a secondary in this respect,” Auerbach said. “Dan has the maturity and the wisdom beyond his age.”
Torres said SUNY New Paltz is a weird entity because of how it’s affected by both the town and village. Since he’s so close in age with most students, he said he’s willing to listen to and help students because he’s able to relate with them.
Auerbach said he thinks Torres has a long career ahead of him in serving the community.
“I don’t think the New Paltz town board will be the last stop on Dan’s public service train,” Auerbach said. “I would say political train, but that may be broadened to him keeping himself involved in some sort of public service.”
Looking forward, Torres said he is looking at ways to help New Paltz become a more environmentally- friendly community. He’d also like to start the discussion of implementing a first-time homebuyer tax exemption because New Paltz has a very young community and not everyone can afford to stay there.
In addition to working as a councilman, Torres is an integrated marketing communications graduate student at Marist.