Caleb Slater ’18 is running for the New York State Senate District 48, which represents Onondaga and Cayuga County. Slater credits his time at Ithaca College for his interest and skill sets in politics.
Slater is a 26-year-old Republican candidate with three main political focuses: education, energy and crime. During his education at the college, Slater was on the debate team, the president of IC Republicans, vice president of the IC Young Americans for Liberty chapter and the treasurer of the IC Students for Life chapter.
News Editor Lorien Tyne spoke with Slater about his political ideology and what he wants to focus on if he is elected to office.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Lorien Tyne: Can you tell me about your experience at Ithaca College and how that has gotten you where you are today?
Caleb Slater: There’s always a cause to get involved in it. … One thing led to another. I went down that intellectual darkweb rabbit hole, the Joe Rogans of the world, and I became the president of the Ithaca College Republicans; I became the vice president of the college’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter. … What makes me unique compared to other people, whether progressive, liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican, is that I have empathy for both sides of the argument because I’ve made friends with people who are on both sides of these arguments. Especially through debate, there were times when I had to argue liberal perspectives and progressive perspectives; I had to research all the different perspectives. And being able to do that and be quick on my feet and understand arguments is what’s given me the ability to have those skills that I needed to run for office.
LT: What are you hoping to bring to the senate position?
CS: I will be the first Generation Z Republican elected to the New York State Senate. … I want to be able to show the older generations that it’s time for the younger generation to carry the torch and we can run this country just as much as anyone else. That’s important to me. … I’m hoping that they’re inspired by the fact that here’s an Ithaca alum, 26 years old, who’s not following the typical pecking order or getting in good with the establishment and instead listening to the fact that the voters want something fresh, something new, and providing that perspective.
LT: You said energy is a large focus for you. What are you advocating for in terms of energy?
CS: I’m not anti-green energy like many people on the right are. I do see a value in [electric vehicles]. I do see a value in solar and wind [energy]. In fact, I took environmental law while I was at Ithaca College. I don’t deny that climate change is real and I don’t deny that climate change is happening. The difference between myself and maybe someone on the more progressive wing is that I don’t see forcing the consumer into using these products and services before they are naturally ready as the solution.
LT: What is your perspective on education?
CS: Again, coming down to maximizing freedom and choices in the marketplace. One thing that I’ll compliment to [Governor of New York] Kathy Hochul — because I want to be a leader that can find nonpartisan solutions for our state — in her budget, she requested a raise in the caps of charter schools in New York. I think that’s a good thing. … But I also recognize that we need to reallocate the funds that our schools are getting right now. We’re seeing all these administrators getting this money that should be going to improving the quality of our education for our teachers and students.
LT: Where do you stand with crime and what solutions do you want to see?
CS: A lot of people talk about bail reform. This idea that someone who is committing a non-violent offense, they don’t have to pay bail. A lot of time it’s affecting something like theft for example, and then they’re back out on the streets and we do see them committing crimes again. … The second thing is more local judicial discretion. I mean, the officers that are working with these criminals have a much better understanding of what the penalty should be than some bureaucrat. … The third and final thing I would say is the raised age legislation in Syracuse, specifically, a lot of the crimes that are being committed by 13-,14-, 15-year-old kids, but New York state changed the laws in 2019 making it very hard to detain somebody under the age of 18. Depending on the severity of the crime, I can understand that you don’t want to lock up a bunch of 13- and 14-year-old kids. There’s a whole argument that a lot of the progressives bring up, which is the school-to-prison pipeline, and I think that’s a very interesting pathway to take. But when somebody is doing something that’s really violent and has multiple gun charges, you can’t let this person back out on the streets. … There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every person is different. Every crime is different. Every situation is different.