Already one of the youngest elected mayors in New York state history, Binghamton University alumnus Kyle Roddey may be among the youngest assemblymen in New York come elections in November.
Roddey, who graduated in 2008, was elected mayor of his hometown, Goshen, N.Y., three years later.
“I knew I wanted to move back home, I love my hometown of Goshen,” he said.
Before he was elected mayor, he served two years as village trustee of Goshen, where he was sewage commissioner.
“The mayor that was there when I was [trustee], we made a lot of decisions closely together,” he said. “He decided not to run, and I said sewer is a big issue, but there were a lot of things I had ideas on and I said I think I’m the right guy for the job.”
He ran unopposed.
Roddey was elected village trustee in 2009, at the age of 23. It was his frustration with the incumbent’s handling of sewage in Goshen that inspired him to run, he said.
“I started paying attention to what was going on and I said, ‘well that doesn’t sound right,’” he explained. “I said these people are just doing things the way they’ve always been doing them and they’re not looking to new ways to approach them. Sewage was a very contentious, crazy topic.”
Roddey graduated from BU with a degree in history. Although he said he enjoyed the majority of his classes, he particularly enjoyed “Cultures and Conflicts” with Professor Harold Brown.
“In that class we really got to the nitty-gritty,” Roddey said. “But I pretty much enjoyed all my classes. Except math. Math class was awful.”
He was a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and worked as a student manager at Sports Bar, the bar that has since become Scoreboard.
“Working at Sports Bar was definitely enjoyable as a way of socializing and making money at the same time,” he said.
Roddey added that learning to balance his work at Sports Bar, classes and a social life was one of the most important lessons he took from his time at BU.
“Time management is really important,” he said. “College is really the first time you’re on your own, and if you want to be a part of something you have to make time for it.”
Roddey now focuses on his mayoral duties during the day and moonlights as the manager of a local restaurant on nights and weekends.
“The mayoral salary isn’t too much, so I do that to supplement my income,” he said.
In addition to these responsibilities, Roddey also sits on the board of several Goshen nonprofit organizations.
Ryan Henderson was Roddey’s neighbor in Dickinson Community and later moved off campus with him to Chestnut Street. He said Roddey is a politician by nature and it showed during his time in college.
“He wanted to talk to everybody, meet everybody,” Henderson said. “From the beginning, Kyle always liked to be out ahead and making his face known and helping people as much as possible. That was really his college experience.”
He remembered that Roddey often joked about a future in politics while in school.
“He and I always joked around and another one of our roommates that he would be president and we would be members of his cabinet,” Henderson said.
Roddey is now running for a seat on the New York State Assembly representing the 99th District, which encompasses Goshen.
Making New York more business friendly and eliminating special interests in Albany are the main platforms he is running on, he said.
“New York state is losing more and more residents because people can’t afford to live here anymore and we’re scaring away businesses as well,” Roddey said. “We need to improve the business climate, because right now New York is not friendly to business.”
Before Roddey was elected mayor, he worked as a substitute teacher.
“I stopped substitute teaching when I was elected mayor,” Roddey said. “Ideally, I would like to be an assembly member for a few years, get some good changes done in Albany, and then get back into education.”
Teaching was always Roddey’s first love, according to Henderson.
“Kyle’s goal was always to become a teacher, and he used to talk about how in his hometown of Goshen, New York, he saw how hard it was to be a teacher,” Henderson said. “That was always his ultimate goal.”