WILL Truitt’s father was on canine duty in Hyde Park, New York when he was asked to serve as bodyguard for former President Bill Clinton during a speech he was giving at the FDR estate.
Will was ten, and his father, a police officer, was allowed to take his son along. “Seeing my dad interact with a leader who impacts nearly every life on this earth was a really remarkable experience for me. Regardless of my political affiliation, I appreciated his aura as a person, as a leader. I thought, ‘If this man can do it—why can’t I?’”
Will is one of the youngest elected officials to serve as a Dutchess County legislator. He represents District 7, and is responsible for representing the voices of nearly 15,000 constituents in both Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park. After interning for the Dutchess County Executive’s office under Marc Molinaro during his freshman year at Marist, he decided that he wanted to run. He told his boss, “When I leave here, I’m going to run.” The incumbent was a Democrat, much older and more well-known than Will, but at only twenty years old Will set off across the county knocking on the doors of his future constituents.
Will got involved with local government for two reasons: he wanted to know the ramifications of politics on a local level and interact with people in that capacity. “What we lack in government today is young people, as well as your average person,” he said. “That’s a mistake in our perception. We think these politicians are larger than life and sometimes they think they are the bosses. However, it’s the people we represent that vote us into office. They are our boss.”
When Will decided to run for public office, he remembers the warm winds of support wafting his way. Nevertheless, he chuckles as he explains, “I don’t think anyone really thought I could do it.” He has gotten a lot of criticism for his age, coupled with the common misconception that he lacks life experience. Will professes that age itself is no judge of ‘life experience,’especially in government. If an official is willing to serve the people honestly and fairly, then he or she is fit to hold office. To Will, the most important aspect is following the voice of the people he represents.
“That’s a mistake in our perception. We think these politicians are larger than life and sometimes they think they are the bosses. However, it’s the people we represent that vote us into office. They are our boss.”
“For people to put faith in me as a twenty-year-old is very humbling and a great honor. They have faith in me because they know I’m gonna do a good job. I will work for them on their behalf.”
He recalls one of his greatest challenges along the campaign trail occurred when he visited the home of five registered Republicans. Will assumed the location would be an easy stop, but nonetheless he was met with opposition. “The constituents there said they would never vote for me because I was their daughter’s age.”
Will, a native of Hyde Park, is the first male in his family to go to college. He comes from a lower-middle class, working family and his mother stays home to care for both his younger sister and himself. His father became a policeman when he was 21, beginning at the sheriff’s office at the Hyde Park Police Department. He retired once, but as Will describes, needed to stay active and is now a member of the Fishkill, New York police force.
“Growing up I was a very outspoken person. But I love talking to people, I deeply care for them. I attribute this characteristic to my faith. I’ve always held that special connection in my heart to God, and I believe there is not a single person on this earth better than any other,” he said.
This commitment to selflessness is the main source of ignition for Will, having propelled him to serve the public. He explains he is a conservative, believing that hard work and success come about due to one’s own doing. There are no entitlements, no handouts, because such elements don’t cultivate work ethic. He expresses that motivation can be taught if the proper environment is present. “I’ve always known I am not as fortunate as kids from other families—factors work against me. I’ve always held two jobs and interned. Nothing is going to be handed to me. When I graduate, I need to be the one to ensure I am in a position to take care of myself.” He continues, “The government is there to support you, but not so as to hold you back and push others forward. We are all equal.”
Will is a commuter, revealing that missing out on a “typical college experience” has never bothered him. He has “a one-hundred-year plan” and certainly does not live day-to-day. He rises early to write out his schedule, making sure to put studies first. He is pursuing a major in business administration with a concentration in finance and hopes to work in the business world.
He explains that oftentimes power is diffused in a corrupt manner, “A couple of bad apples ruin the bunch, our government is set up with obvious flaws, but overall it is a tremendous system. As a politician, I am elected to further the lives of the people I represent rather than improve my own. My goal is to remain transparent in all that I do.”