Schreiber Alumni Matt Varvaro runs for a seat in state assembly

August Zeidman, Features Editor

August Zeidman: Was there any specific moment in your life that made you interested in politics?

Matt Varvaro: I started following politics when I was at Schreiber, in the lead-up to the 2008 election.  The more I read about politics and government and the more I started following the election, the more I realized how important public policy is to our day-to-day lives and how important it is to send the right people to elected office.

AZ: Were you ever politically active at Schreiber, and if so, did any of your actions during that time influence your political views or actions to the present?

MV: My time at Schreiber had an enormous influence on me, professionally and politically.  I was a member of social science research and the debate team, where we discussed and debated political issues on a daily basis.  Those experiences opened my mind to new ideas and sharpened my ability to think critically about those issues.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would not be doing what I do today had it not been for my experience at Schreiber—and in particular for my experience in those two programs.

AZ: Do you have any ideas about education reform?

MV: I am a big believer in expanding the role of technology in the classroom.  Technological innovation has revolutionized virtually every sector of our economy, but those revolutions have not made their way to the field of education.  We should do more to accommodate the way students learn and process information in the 21st century, which is increasingly through gaming and interaction with modern technology.  I think that we should not only fund more technology in the classroom, but incorporate it into our curricula so that it’s part of the way students learn on a day-to-day basis.

AZ: Would you say growing up in a place like Port Washington affected your views on a topic such as taxation?

MV: We live in one of the highest taxed areas of the highest taxed state in the country.  Our extremely burdensome tax code raises the cost of living, and drives businesses and individuals—especially those in our generation—out of the state.  That does not bode well for Long Island’s future, and living in Port Washington has made me particularly attuned to that issue.

AZ: Are you in favor of greater government investment in arts programs? Why or why not?

MV: I strongly support investing in arts programs, including music education. Those programs help students think creatively, unlock new skills, and generally become more well-rounded people by teaching them about music, art, and culture.

AZ: What are your further aspirations, if any, beyond state assembly?

MV: I have worked in politics and government in some capacity for the last seven years of my life, and I will definitely continue that going forward. While my mind isn’t set on any one specific career path, my goal is to make a positive difference in the political arena, and there will be many opportunities to do that going forward.

AZ:  Would you call the election, even with an unfavorable result, an enjoyable experience?

MV: This election was, without question, the most memorable and exciting experience of my life.  The number of new and interesting people I met, and the groups I addressed, and the events I attended, were beyond anything I could have imagined when I got into this six months ago.  My favorite part of the campaign was the opportunities I had to debate and discuss the issues, and to lay out to the voters the policy ideas on which I was running.

AZ: Do you have anything to say about the results of the U.S. Presidential Election or president-elect Donald Trump?

MV: While I did not vote for President-Elect Trump, now that he won the election, I hope, as all Americans should, that he has a successful presidency and helps to fix some of the important problems confronting our nation.

AZ: Do you have any regrets from your campaign and, if so, what would you have done differently looking back?

MV: I have zero regrets because I truly believe that we ran a good campaign, that we worked hard, and that we left everything on the table.  Six months ago, many people told me that this Assembly seat was unwinnable because voter registration does not favor my party.  While we didn’t win, we did carry 49% of the district, which was the best showing of any Assembly candidate of my party in this district in almost 40 years.  That is an extraordinary testament to everyone who worked so hard to support our campaign.