On The Beach
With Beverly Baxter
People Are Talking About Eric Ulrich
If you saw him on the street, you might just pass him by. Chalk him up as being just another back-pack carrying college-aged student who is immersed in the daunting task of finding his way in the world. Stop to delve further and comment on the current state of the world, well you might find yourself standing on that corner all day-engaged in exhilarating conversation about politics at the local, as well as, the global level. His keen knowledge and grasp of the issues effecting the workaday everyman will leave you spellbound. Dare to ask him what his plans and goals are for the rest of his life, and he will look you square in the eye and flatly state, "to be Mayor of the City of New York." Yes, Eric Ulrich has high hopes.
From the moment I met Eric several years ago, I felt as though I was watching a young thoroughbred going through its paces and well on its way to someday winning the Triple-Crown. Although he hasn't the political pedigree of someone bred into a political dynasty like, say, a Joe Addabbo, Eric Ulrich comes from humble and unlikely beginnings; yet his relentless hopes and can-do spirit reflect our own. His is the American dream, and he has, from an early age, been on-track and focused on making his mark in the world via political service.
When we sat down for this interview, he was battling a cold. Most his age, he is barely 21, would have whimsically explained it away as allergies or due to the change in seasons, but Eric thoughtfully states, "I may have picked it up during the Veneration of the Cross." We immediately get right to his core. The only child of a fifteen year old mother, Eric was mostly raised by his grandmother, a devout Catholic, who instilled in Eric a solid foundation of faith, hard work, education and service to others. From the time he was in the fifth grade, he wanted to be a Priest. "I was raised in the church and these were my role models. I wanted to make a difference and prepared through high school for the Priesthood." It was also during this time that the seeds of political service were also planted. "My earliest memories involved attending block association meetings with both my mother and grandmother who were equally civic-minded, and going into the voting booth with my grandmother and watching her vote! During our walks home, I was treated to her many lectures encouraging community service." At the age of 11, he passed out flyers at rallies in support of Al Stabile. "I was raised by two very strong women who, despite the adversities of their particular station, persevered through hard work. We didn't have much, but we were never on the dole. I am proud of the fact that I am the first person in four generations who will graduate from college." Eric is in his last semester at St. Frances College, where he attends on a full scholarship and majors in Political Science. He is also an Aide to Councilman Dennis Gallagher who is betting that Eric Ulrich will be the Republican horse in 2009.
While 2009 may seem very far away; politically, it's very close; and while he has made no formal announcement of his candidacy, rumors are circulating. Just last month, a St. Patrick's Day celebration was given in his honor. Over 100 guests attended and he received big accolades from big friends, namely, a distinguished roster of Republican icons like former two-term City Councilman Al Stabile, State Senator Serf Maltese, Councilman Dennis Gallagher, and former Councilman and Minority Leader, Tom Ognibene, who regards Eric as his protege' and who stated that "there are 40 year olds who act like 20 year olds and then there is Eric Ulrich who, at 20, acts like he's 40!" Mr. Ognibene went on to say that Eric is "one of the most mature and brightest of young men and it has been a remarkable experience to know him on a personal level and in politics. In Eric, the voters will find what they have been looking for and that is someone who is both accessible and dedicated to public service. The accolades come easy. That's how much knowledge and compassion he has." Aside from his mother, who beamed wi th pride, his biggest supporter is former N.Y.C. Schools Chancellor and current President of St. Francis College, Breezy Point resident Dr. Frank Macchiarola. Also in attendance were civic presidents, union leaders, fraternal organizations like the Knights of Columbus, of which he is a Deputy Grand Knight, Priests, students and seniors, demonstrating Eric's reach and broad support. In addition to glowing endorsements from esteemed elected officials, Eric's resume is quite impressive as well. He is a former Community Board 9 member. He had to resign due to a conflict of interest when he went to work for Councilman Gallagher. He is V.P. of the Ozone Park Civic Association, President of the 23rd A.D. Regular Republican Club, member of the Rockaway Republican Club, Executive member of the County Committee, a Columnist for the See and Save Newspaper and serves as Lector and Euccharistic Minister at the Nativity BVM Church of Ozone Park. George Greco, Chairman of the Rockaway Republicans states, "Eric is a refreshing force in the Republican Party. He is the future of the Republican Party. I never cease to be awed by his understanding of the issues."
Eric has established a political committee and has registered with the state and city Board of Elections. He intimates that his eye is on the City Council seat, which, due to Term Limits, will be vacated by our current Councilman Addabbo as he seeks higher office. Why the City Council and not the Assembly seat? "It's winable, as proven by former Republican Councilman Stabile who went up against a political icon like Walter Ward and won. The Assembly seats are Gerrymandered to favor the encumbent. In over 3000 races, only 34 encumbents have been unseated. Council seats are drawn by Bi-Partisan committees and have proven to be promising for Democrats as well as Republicans in a city that's overwhelmingly Democrat."
Eric made his most recent political debut when he mounted a formidable campaign against the current Republican District Leaders. While he lost by merely 124 votes, he took Rockaway by an impressive majority. "It was an important validation that I was able to beat Ed O'Hare in his own backyard. My intent is to keep our current leaders' 'feet to the fire' and hopefully get them to become more involved in their elected positions. If I can inspire and resurrect an interest in Republican principles, then I have done much for the party."
In 2009, the political stars will be aligned perfectly for an Ulrich candidacy. At 25 years old, he will be poised to enter into a serious political career. We will all be enthusiastically watching. After all, time...is on his side.