“We made history! Youngest elected in the history of Rochester, New York. Thank you to everyone, we made it happen,” said Isaiah Santiago.
19-year old Isaiah Santiago experienced his first major local political victory at the polls on Primary Day 2023 when he historically became the youngest person ever to win in a primary election for an at-large seat on the Rochester City School Board (RCSB).
His resounding victory not only marks a significant milestone but also serves as a powerful testament to the concerns and aspirations of the city's youth.
Santiago, a recent School of the Arts graduate, is a freshman student at St. John Fisher College (SJFC) whose interest in serving on the RCSB likely began during his RCSD high school career. At SJFC, he is studying political science.
His performance at the primary election polls tends to show that his collegiate pursuit fits him rather well. Santiago’s victory can easily be described as stellar– with him walking away with the second highest percentage of votes (17.12%) amongst the seven primary candidates who ran for the four available general election slots. Incumbent RCSB member Beatriz LeBron narrowly carried the most votes (18.20%), joined by Amy Malloy and Jaqueline Griffin.
The Rochester Commissioner of School vote breakdown is as follows. The top four candidates move on to the general election and more than likely will win a seat on the board:
Beatriz LeBron - 5,596
Isaiah Santiago - 5263
Amy Maloy - 4992
Jaqueline Griffin - 4105
Ricardo Adams - 4065
Maria Cruz - 3824
Vince Felder - 2849
Although young, Santiago has experience with the academic governance process; more specifically, he prepared a curriculum on mental health literacy that he hopes to have introduced in RCSD in upcoming years.
Throughout his campaign efforts, Santiago tirelessly advocated for increased investment in public education, emphasizing the significance of equitable access to resources, addressing disparities in educational outcomes, and fostering a supportive environment for all students.
Santiago’s interests also include addressing youth violence and developing policies to involve young people and students in decision-making and representation.
Editor's note: Previous versions of this article said Santiago was running as a Republican, he is in-fact a Democrat and won the Democratic Primary race.