Running for Congress has been far more exciting and rewarding than I ever imagined. One of the things that has made this journey so incredibly meaningful has been the response from the men and women of the local fire departments. My fire department friends have always been like family to me and they have been supporting my campaign in ways that exceed all expectations.
Is every firefighter thrilled about my campaign? Oh no. Absolutely not. Plenty of firefighters would never vote for a Democrat. One firefighter loves to write angry letter about me. And that’s okay. As former Governor Mario Cuomo used to say: When you run for office and try to do good things, you will win false friends and true enemies. And you should run for office, anyway.
I joined the Vigilant Fire Department on my 18th birthday. It was the best decision I ever made. I remained on active duty for almost 12 years. The friends and role models that I made in the fire department are some of the most extraordinary people in the world. The only reason I resigned from the fire company is because I graduated from law school and I was offered the opportunity to become an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn’s special victim’s bureau. Sadly, the District Attorney requires all prosecutors to live in the City of New York.
I knew that some local firefighters would resent my campaign for Congress. This was never in dispute. After all, I am breaking one of the most sacred unwritten rules of the fire service. Rescue workers are trained to shy away from attention and never boast about personal accomplishments. And firefighters who talk with the media about their time at Ground Zero have always been treated with a special type of scorn.
Nonetheless, running for office has been a lifelong dream of mine. And I’m running against a powerful incumbent with more than $2 million in the bank. That means I need to talk about my accomplishments at every opportunity. And yes, I’m going to describe the incredible lessons I learned in the fire department and I’m even going to discuss my experience at Ground Zero.
Included with this letter is a picture from Ground Zero. Hillary Clinton was kind enough to pay us a visit and this picture was taken by a U.S. Army photographer. This photo is very special to me. And I hope to hang it in my office when I become a member of the United States Congress.
Michael Weinstock is a former Assistant District Attorney and former firefighter. He is now a candidate for Congress in New York’s Third Congressional District