Sayd Hussain is counting on his family’s immigrant story to connect with voters in Florida’s statehouse District 91.
He’s not defensive. Just prepared for the questions about his name, where he’s from, where he lives and his age.
The former White House intern turned 21 on March 22. He’s a senior majoring in environmental engineering and political science at Florida Atlantic University.
A Republican, he’s the only candidate so far filed to run against incumbent Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Democrat. The qualifying period for statehouse candidates is noon June 8 to noon June 12.
Q: What’s the misunderstanding about your name and where your family is from?
A: I was born in Georgetown, Guyana in South America. My family emigrated when I was 1 ½, but I keep my heritage close.
Q: What do people think you are?
A: Everything but what I really am. They’re blindsided when I say I’m from a former colony of England.
Q: Do you have a stomp speech where you mention that right away?
A: I say I’m from Guyana and it’s in South America, but we speak English there. I always get the word “wow.” I always mention I’m the great-grandson of indentured servants. They don’t know how Indians, my ancestors, were taken to be sugar cane cutters.
Q: So, people relate to your immigrant story?
A: Especially Jewish people. It’s more relatable to them than I was 5 minutes ago.
Q: Let’s talk about why you decided to run now.
A: I’ve come through a lot of political experiences. In 2018, I interned at the White House for two months. I was part of the Council on Environmental Quality. I worked on implementing an executive order to review the environmental review process.
Q: How involved were you?
A: My role was watching the process and shadowing the people involved. You can offer your own input and suggestions.
Q: What did you bring away from that experience?
A: Opportunity. You’re in the most powerful building in the planet and meeting people who can change your life in an instance.
Q: Did you meet President Trump?
A: No, but I did meet the vice president and Kellyanne Conway.
Q: Did you ever see them again?
A: I was at the White House this summer as part of a campus leadership project. It brings student leaders from around the country to D.C. to hear from speakers. The vice president spoke at the end and he shook my hand. He said, ‘nice to see you again.’ There’s a picture of that on my Facebook page. I was very flattered, no matter what your political stance is.
Q: Now we come to the age thing.
A: It’s not the first thing people think about. But eventually we get there. I usually ask them, ‘how old you think I am? I’m actually 21.’ And they say wow. I’m always getting the wow factor.
Q: So why are you running now?
A: I understand that politics is local. There are issues in my communities such as HOA reform, elderly bullying I feel because I know my community. I know how to solve these problems because I face them every day. I shouldn’t have to wait for an opening to help my neighbors.
Q: Do you live in District 91 that includes West Boca?
A: When people ask me, I say, ‘I live across the street and I’m fighting for the issues you care for.’
Q: Is there a campaign web site?
A: We’re launching next week at saydforflorida.com. You can also donate by texting vote to 80800. I’ll send you a text message with my phone number.
By Marci Shatzman