Mike Kaplowitz is Out to Balance New York’s Checkbook
With negative campaigns, personal attacks, and power at stake, politics is not an ideal place for the lighthearted. But Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz, the Democratic candidate for the 40th district state senate seat, understands the importance of keeping a smile on his face and a joke on deck. “I am appropriately self-deprecating,” Kaplowitz said. “I don’t take myself that seriously. I’ve had campaign managers chastise me for my attempts at humor. And I’ve since gotten rid of them ... Levity is fun. It makes friends.”
If Kaplowitz wins in November, he will be in a totally new environment, with new friends to make in Albany. He has been a county legislator since 1998 and thinks he can make a great contribution in higher office. “It’s a natural progression,” he said. “If you are in A or AA ball, you strive for the major leagues. You wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t do that. The higher you go, the closer you are to where the real decision making and real solutions occur. I believe that the state senate is where I could make a real positive change.”
In a state that is quickly becoming a poster child for fiscal incompetence, Kaplowitz said his career as a certified financial planner and small business owner will pay dividends in Albany. “Being a financial planner means that I sit with real people,” he said. “Homeowners, moms, and dads trying to send their kids to college, seniors who are ready to retire and stay retired—I am proud of the fact that for a quarter century, I have helped people effectuate their dreams.”
“There is a strong parallel between what a household has to do and what government has to do,” he added.
Republicans are traditionally considered the party of small government and spending, but Kaplowitz says that there is no conflict in being a fiscally conservative Democrat. “My belief is that you need a net to catch people who fall off the tightrope,” he said. “It’s not very humane to just let them fall. You need to educate. You need to invest back in young people. But at the same time, you can’t spend more than you bring in. The government needs to understand that you have to stay within your means.”
For anyone planning on law school in the near future, Kaplowitz, a graduate of Boston University School of Law, offers his condolences. “Law school is basically boot camp for the mind. It’s designed to be an awful place,” he said. “They literally reorient your whole way of thinking.”
However, the law school way of thinking has provided Kaplowitz the skills needed to be a successful financial planner and politician, even though he never entered into practice. “There are attorneys that are very jealous of me. They say that I’m the wisest attorney they’ve ever met because I never practiced a day in my life,” he said. “But I use that skill set for financial planning. So much of the financial planning world is related to the legal world.”
Although a joke-telling, people-person, Kaplowitz finds an escape in solitary hobbies. He has an extensive stamp collection, and has read biographies of every president, in near perfect order. “I use to have model trains … until my wife told me to put them away,” he said. He is also on a mission to watch a game at all 30 of the Major League Baseball parks, having visited 19 already.
Through politics, business, and hobbies, Kaplowitz manages to keep his priorities in line. “Family is obviously most important,” he said. He and his wife, Jayne, have two daughters in college. “My younger one is in theatre. I get really psyched about going on weekends to see her in shows,” he said. “My girls are the best. I hope they get to achieve everything they want in life.”
Kaplowitz will face Republican Assemblyman Greg Ball in the Nov. 2 general election.
For a profile of Ball, see “Greg Ball Battles the Tax-and-Spend Machine” in the September 9 COURIER.