“I remember thinking 'wow, there’s all these young people talking about politics and it’s cool,'” he said.
Much has changed in those eight years. Costa Constantinides, with whom Fanjul attended that first meeting, is now a City Council member. Melinda Katz, who spoke at the first meeting, is now the borough president. And as of last week, Fanjul now serves as the president of the organization.
The current chief of staff to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Fanjul says he’s excited to take on his new responsibility and to help young people better understand and become excited about politics.
“I think to some extent politics needs to be demystified for our generation,” he said. “[Oftentimes] we learn about politics from the Daily Show or House of Cards.”
He said the organization was in the unique position to bring Democrats from across the borough together, as many Democratic organizations are district-based, whereas Queens Young Democrats comprises the whole county.
“Queens is the world’s borough, and as such we really do have the ability as young Democrats to be very comprehensive and bring everyone in Queens together and find our commonalities,” he said. “The youth arm is in a unique position to do that.”
As for the future, Fanjul says that although past Young Dems presidents have moved on to a host of impressive positions, with his predecessor Hersh Parekh stepping down to take a position in the governor’s office, he’s currently focused only on the present.
“Right now I’m really trying to focus on doing my job as best I can,” he said. “I’ve held my role for not that much time. I believe in an elbow grease mentality. Judge me on this job first.”