The retail-style politics of knocking on doors, talking to constituents and shaking more hands than your opponent is something U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., learned two decades ago when he was an undergraduate honors student at Rutgers-New Brunswick majoring in economics.
“It’s all about building relationships,” said Soto, 39, the first Puerto Rican elected to the House of Representatives from Florida who was sworn into his first term in January after spending a decade in the Florida House of Representatives and state Senate. “It’s something I learned early on at Rutgers and I still follow to this day.”
This philosophy, Soto said, began during his second semester at Rutgers as an undergraduate honors student living at Brett Hall. Soto, whose father and brother also graduated from Rutgers, hadn’t yet become involved in any student organizations and decided that rushing a fraternity would enable him to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
This was one of the best decisions of his life, said Soto who became a member of Alpha Chi Rho and spent the next three years at Rutgers developing the social skills that he insists are critical for public office.
Years later as a U.S. Rep., Soto is hoping to be able to work not only with Democrats but also with Republicans on legislation that will help create jobs, protect the environment, provide health care and champion women’s, immigrants and civil rights.
“These issues are near and dear to me,” said Soto. “I am putting one foot in front of the other and looking at what I have to get done now.”
Excerpted from Rutgers Today