Name: Elton Armady
Current Political Affiliation: Democrat
Current Role: Councilman At-Large, Plainfield
Other Employment: Program analyst, Union County’s Department of Economic Development
Education: B.S., marketing, M.B.A. and Master of Public Administration, Pennsylvania State University
Volunteer/Organizations: Volunteer for Union County Has Heart; co-chair of the Union County Young Democrats Legislative Caucus; elected member of the Union County Democratic Committee and Plainfield Democratic City Committee.
ROI-NJ: When and how did you first enter into politics?
Elton Armady: My interest peaked when I was an undergraduate student at Penn State University during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary. Not only did I learn about politics through my political science classes for my minor, but my support for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton allowed me to meet and campaign with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, when he came to my campus during the Pennsylvania primary. Through my work with the campaign, I realized that I, too, could be a candidate one day and advocate for issues that I care about.
ROI: Has your age helped or hindered you in your political endeavors?
EA: I’ve found from my own experiences that you are more credible if you can effectively demonstrate how your educational, professional and volunteer experiences make you a qualified candidate for a job. With respect to my ascension to City Council, I found that Mayor (Adrian) Mapp saw my age as an asset. He recognized the value of having a younger perspective on the council and on cultivating new leadership.
ROI: What advice would you give to young people considering entering politics?
EA: I highly recommend that any young person considering entering politics should intern for a local, county, state or federal elected official. This will give them a behind-the-scenes look into what it is like to be an elected official and also give them a true understanding of how government works. … Interning will also help them to decide whether they want to be an elected official or a policy staffer, or if they would be more effective outside of the government, at a nonprofit organization or within the private sector.
ROI: What are the issues you are currently most passionate about?
EA: Although Plainfield is one of the more economically disadvantaged communities in Union County, we are seeing that with the right leadership, it has a lot of promise. Under Mayor Adrian Mapp, Plainfield is going through a renaissance, as evidenced by major investments from industry, small businesses and developers. As a result, we’re seeing new luxury residences, quality affordable housing, and restaurants and businesses, which are bringing new jobs and economic development opportunities to the city’s residents. We also have more recreation for our youth, such as the recently constructed skatepark, which is one of the largest in New Jersey. We also recently introduced LimeBike, Plainfield’s first bike share program. These are just some of the factors that fueled my commitment to working in partnership with my colleagues on the Plainfield City Council and the Mapp administration to continue moving Plainfield forward.
ROI: What issues do you believe resonate most within your age group?
EA: The availability of quality education and job training; reproductive rights; protecting the environment; the ability to earn a livable wage; and equal pay. Solving such societal problems can best be accomplished by either running for office or getting involved in organizations that work to advance change.
ROI: Let’s talk about the importance of local politics.
EA: I believe that, in order to successfully bring about change through public policy and legislation, it is important to do so from a strong base at the local and grassroots levels. That requires organization and, most importantly, voting for the right candidates at all levels of government.
ROI: How do you balance your political responsibilities with that of your current employment?
EA: Since my full-time job working for Union County is my livelihood, that is my first priority. That being said, I utilize my vacation and compensatory time to fulfill my political responsibilities when needed and participate in political events and meetings at the end of the work day if they do not conflict or interfere with my job.
Read ROI-NJ’s other Q&As with young politicians:
- Aylon Berger (D), assistant to the campaign manager for Mikie Sherrill for Congress
- Jason Cilento (R), councilman, Dunellen
- Alyssa Dawson (R), councilwoman, Westwood
- Giancarlo Ghione (R), chairman of the New Jersey Young Republican Federation
- Stephany Kim-Chohan (D), councilwoman, Highland Park
- Bill Moen (D), freeholder, Camden County, and Southern New Jersey director for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker
- Sarah R. Neibart (R), committeewoman, Mendham Twp., and deputy campaign manager for Bob Hugin for U.S. Senate