Senior meets NYC election candidate for simulation campaign

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During THHS’s annual Election Simulation, Harrisites attempt to portray real-life candidates as accurately as possible. Occasionally, simulation candidates get to meet their real-life counterparts in order to perfect and enhance this portrayal. This year senior Tawhid Meah, who played the Republican candidate for Queens Borough President, Tony Arcabascio, grew especially close with Mr. Arcabascio himself, contributing to his victory in the Election Simulation against Melinda Katz.

Tawhid was given the opportunity to meet Mr. Arcabascio through the efforts of his campaign manager, senior Carie Chen.

“There wasn’t much information on Tony online, so we knew that we would have to get in contact with him to learn more about him,” Tawhid explained. “He had a contact email on his website, and Carie emailed him and that’s how we all started talking.”

After getting in touch with him online, Tawhid and Carie were able to meet the actual Tony Arcabascio.  Mr. Arcabascio spent time with the two Harrisites, even meeting with them at Gino’s Pizzeria to speak of his policies and how they could apply his words to the Simulation.  Mr. Arcabascio explained his policies to Tawhid  and guided him in how to conduct classroom visits. Tawhid also took note of Mr. Arcabascio’s mannerisms, and Tawhid would email any questions to Mr. Arcabascio during the election season.

“At Gino’s [Mr. Arcabascio] not only told us all of his policies, but he told us some of Melinda Katz’ policies and why they weren’t good for Queens,” said Tawhid. “He also told us some things that would help us explain why Tony’s the better candidate which I have used several times in classroom visits.”

Carie believes this experience contributed to Tawhid’s victory, saying it “motivated us as a team and helped show the underclassmen that we were serious about this Election Simulation and the Queens Borough President race in general.”

However, besides information specific to Mr. Arcabascio, Tawhid and his campaign also learned about the main issues facing Queens. They also underwent a change in their perception of politics.

“Meeting Tony Arcabascio not only benefitted our campaign…but also helped each of us feel a connection to the world of politics,” said Carie. “When we hear politics we automatically think of the word “corruption” but Tony Arcabascio showed that not all politicians out there are corrupt.”

Besides working with Mr. Arcabascio on a professional level, Tawhid developed a close bond with him over the two months of contact. Mr. Arcabascio even posted photos of him and the simulation campaign on his Facebook page.

“[Tony Arcabascio] sent us an email the day of our debate asking: “SOOOOOOOO…… How did it go??? I’ve been waiting to hear all day!! I know you guys did great!!’ It really makes me feel good to show how much our mock election means to him.”

Tawhid saw Mr. Arcabascio as a role model, describing him as “an extremely nice man who actually cares about his community” and possessing a “friendly vibe” that was difficult to duplicate.

Mr. Arcabascio also enjoyed meeting Tawhid and his “campaign” and felt the experience pushed him to work harder within the real election.

“I truly believe that even though I lost the general election for Queens Borough President, I was the only real winner having met and worked with such great students and knowing first hand that we are in good hands with our future leaders from THHS,” said Mr. Arcabascio.

Mr. Arcabascio’s son graduated from THHS in 2005 and participated in the Election Simulation. Mr. Arcabascio praises the THHS community for continuing to run the annual program because of the political education it provides.

He adds, “I applaud the team and Tawhid for their victory and whatever I can do in the future to assist THHS students in understanding civics, politics or be a resource of any kind, please feel free to ask.”