Millennials have been called lazy, entitled and coddled. Tell that to Billy Barlow. The 25-year-old Republican was just elected the youngest major in New York state. In January, Barlow will be sworn in as mayor of his hometown of Oswego, New York, population 20,000.
“Age is just a number,” Barlow said Tuesday night after his big win.
But there will be no honeymoon period for this first time mayor. Entergy recently announced it will shutdown the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant near Oswego, resulting in the loss of 615 jobs. “Closing FitzPatrick is a devastating blow to our community,” Barlow told Yahoo Finance. Oswego, New York already boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, of 6.7% as of September 2015.
Barlow says one of his top priorities as mayor is to work with local leaders to make it easier for companies, both large and small, to do business in Oswego. “I want to fix the reputation we have for being somewhat business unfriendly,” he said.
After graduating from Arizona State University, Barlow moved back to Oswego to expand his family business, Barlow Concessions, but was disappointed to see so many negative changes in his hometown. He was inspired to run for City Council two years ago, and won. Barlow hopes his experience as a council member and small business owner will make him a better mayor.
The mayor elect is focused on restoring and revitalizing Oswego’s neighborhoods. “We have an organization called the Oswego Renaissance Association, that’s literally going block to block improving blighted properties.” Barlow hopes it will not only increase property values, but also make Oswego a more attractive place for young people to by a home and put down roots.
Ed Cox, Chairman of the New York State Republican Party, calls Barlow a “rising star in the Republican Party.” Does that mean we may see “Presidential candidate” Billy Barlow someday? For now, he’s keeping his political aspirations in check. “It may be a bit of a disservice to the people of Oswego to look beyond trying to deliver some serious results in the next four years.”