Landon Dais, an accomplished political strategist faces election Today in Harlem NY. His vision for greater needs in the community has placed in him position to become a candidate for District Leader in Harlem. Yesterday, September 9th we had the chance to discuss the importance of Politics and the change he hopes to bring among his community.
When did you realize being a politician was the appropriate path for you?
I don’t want to be a politician, a politician works to get elected. I want to be a statesmen. A statesmen worries about the next generation, he worries about trying to make where he’s from, his country and his community better.
What made you make the distinction between the two? Have you experienced a politician not be a statesmen or have there been some positive politicians become statesmen too?
My father was not into politics he was in community developments so I’ve often sat in rooms with him making decisions within the community here in Harlem at a young age. I realized in my dad, who I consider to be a statesmen who was never elected , made things better. That’s what I want to do. There’s a two problem approach, we need good policy on the political end and we need economical development to create jobs.
What made you chose Harlem? Was this something you’ve always wanted to do being that you sat in meetings with your father at a young age or did the community want you to take this lead?
I think this path was written but I must be careful- I was not born and raised in Harlem. I’m from Harlem and as a kid my father moved his two black sons to Mount Vernon during the height of the crack epidemic. He saw he had two black boys and wanted to keep them safe. Even with that, we still went to church in Harlem, my parents worked in Harlem.
We slept in Mount Vernon but we still lived in Harlem.
For the past 5 years you’ve organized clean-ups in the Harlem community. Can you describe that first year doing it and how it’s grown to become what it is now. Was the response from the community good or bad?
The feed back was never quite negative. The first round of clean-ups was a real big success. The weather was cold but we had people from Florida and a church group who were in town who needed a community service project help us out. You will see these urban kids from the Bronx and Harlem get along with these suburban kids from outside Tampa bay, Florida. They realized even though they are different they are so similar.
I never had any bad experiences with the clean-ups. I may come across some of the elderly say why didn’t this happen 10 to 15 years ago? That’s a good question. Why didn’t we do this earlier? Today, while door knocking in Manhattan we seen people throw trash out the window. We can clean up, we need to take care of ourselves. There is no magic wand a politician can use to fix this, we as the people need to say this is what we want so this is what we will do.
If you could change something in the community right now, what would that be?
People talk about judification and affordable housing but the reality of it is, if you do not have a job it does not matter how much affordable housing you build. If there’s anything I could change I would like to help ignite 100 Harlem companies that will create 1,000 Harlem jobs. I told this to a young man the other day and he states, ” that’s not a lot. If you think about it that’s only 10 jobs a company”.
Yes, only 10 people per company!
Who do you go to for advice?
First my father, my mother, my wife she’s very wise but then my mentors; Ralph Dawson, Walter Edwards and Rudy Louise. I have nothing but respect for all of them and I listen to what they have to say.
You’ve spent some time in Florida as a senior political associate. How has that helped you this time around?
I learned how to run a very sophisticated congressional campaign. I launched a video earlier and it already has 2,100 views. I’ve learned how to fund raise, which is key. I’ve learned how to be organized, professional and I learned you can not be the campaign manager and the candidate.
When you ran for the City Council in 2009 you were 27 years old. Describe the feeling of raising $76,000 and receiving nearly 3,000 votes.
It was a heck of a feeling! Even with my dad not really wanting me to get into the political arena at first he said,”I have to give you a lot of credit”. He loved the fact that he saw so much energy from me and believing so much into this.
If 25% of the people in this country from the ages of 18 -35 voted they would dominate all elections.
Our parents and grand parents in the age bracket of 18-35 were getting killed for the right to vote. What do you think happened over the time when the generations before us were in a death situation back then to us not even doing it now?
I wish I had that answer. What’s scarier to me is how the generations before us fought to have the right to vote. My grandmother is from Aiken, South Caroline who dealt with the KKK wanting her not to vote. She never missed a vote! I believe I get that from her. I do not remember that last time I’ve missed a vote.