by Jake Schwartz
Ed. Note: Jacob “Jake” Schwartz, 18, is a resident of Chestnut Hill and a senior at Germantown Friends School. He recently completed research for and created a website that provides a biography and easy-to-understand policy summary of every candidate and ballot question on the ballot anywhere in Philadelphia for the Nov. 8 election.
I was born in Germantown but moved to Chestnut Hill when I was two years old. My father’s name is Henry Schwartz, and he is a real estate lawyer. My mother’s name is Lori Olson, and she is a director for tax knowledge management for KPMG (a huge company that provides audit, tax and advisory services). My dream school is Georgetown University, and I hope to study Political Science and International Relations.
I was prompted to create this website because very, very few people know who their State Representative/State Officials, etc., are, let alone what their policies are. Politics is about so much more than who the President is, yet nobody really appreciates that because so much emphasis is put on Presidential campaigns.
Often the policies of your State Senator have a greater effect on your life day-to-day than anybody in Washington D.C., and more importantly, you have a greater influence on who your State Senator is. Changing that sense of awareness is what motivated me to create this website.
I’ve been working on this website throughout October, but I probably put a total of at least six or seven hours into it from start to finish. I got the information from each candidate’s website and from the website of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It went live last Wednesday night, Oct. 26.
I have yet to publicize it in any way, so it only has a handful of hits as of now (last Sunday night). I would love to go into politics myself, but right now I’m just starting small. I literally just turned 18, so I am just barely old enough to vote, but no, very few people at GFS, or honestly in most high schools anywhere, are interested in politics beyond what they hear on the news.
I have been talking non-stop about the upcoming election, and I could write an essay on the consensus. The quick answer is that it is totally unprecedented but very precedent-setting. It could very well change the state of Presidential politics for at least the next couple of elections. I’m confident that Clinton will win the election, but I think it will not only be very close but also very unruly. I’m expecting a very chaotic Nov. 8 and if Clinton wins, a chaotic 9th and 10th, too.
Following are Jake’s replies to some questions we asked him about subjects other than his website:
Right now my favorite writer is political analyst David Axelrod (his book “Believer” is my current favorite), but I am also a huge fan of George Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series. Both authors paint these very articulate stories and present them in an engaging way, even though they are so different they both appeal to my sense of exploration, as cheesy as that sounds.
I’m a very indecisive person, so I think the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is decide where to apply to college. Similarly, I would say the best advice I ever received was to just make a decision and never look back. I would love to be a really great, articulate public speaker. That is definitely something I’m not great at now.
I really have no idea what my most treasured possession is. If I had to say something, then maybe my squash racket or my favorite childhood books. In my spare time I read and play squash. I would say my most impressive characteristic is how nice I am, no matter what. If I could spend time with anybody on earth, it would Joe Biden. He seems like a really cool guy who you could talk to about anything.
You can check out Jake’s website at www.phlpolitics.org.