Niagara County Legislator Kyle R. Andrews has declared his candidacy for Congress.
Not in 2008, probably, or in any specific year, but that's where the Wilson Democrat wants to end up.
For now, he'll continue to build a burgeoning career as an attorney and politician, and will keep serving in the Legislature.
"I plan on staying there in the near future. There's no opportunity right around the corner to advance," said Andrews, who was one of four young elected officials who spoke about their experiences during a Nov. 29 session of the Columbia University Club in Manhattan.
Andrews, 26, is the youngest county legislator in New York State, according to John Celock, a Columbia University School of Journalism graduate who is writing a book about young elected officials. Andrews will be the subject of a chapter in the book.
"He has a unique story. He was elected to the Legislature while in college -- he was a senior -- and he's a Democrat representing what I believe is the most Republican legislative district, and he got elected by unseating a five-term incumbent [Shirley G. Urtel] who was majority leader," Celock said.
Celock, a New Jersey native, met Andrews while both were attending Niagara University. Andrews earned his bachelor's degree there in 2002, the year after he won his first Legislature election, and entered University at Buffalo Law School, earning his law degree last year.
Within weeks, he was hired as an associate at the Buffalo office of the statewide Harris Beach law firm and started in January as Wilson town attorney.
Also, Andrews said he just joined the U.S. Army Reserve's 98th Division as an attorney in the Judge Advocate General Corps. He enters with the rank of first lieutenant and has made an eight-year commitment.
"For years I heard from my dad, 'Things are going to take off once you get out of school,' " said Andrews.
Andrews appeared on the Columbia panel with David Fried, a Rockland County legislator; New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin; and Jersey City, N.J., Councilman Steven Fulop.
"I don't shy away from saying I aspire to a career in public service," Andrews said. "It was discussed in the panel at the very end. Three of them dodged the question, and one of them was honest."
That would be Andrews. "For a farm kid from Wilson to be in the United States Congress would be a dream," he said.
Andrews, in his third term in the Legislature, was mentioned as a possible candidate for county treasurer this year, but dropped the notion when incumbent David S. Broderick announced he was running for re-election.
Andrews has not been opposed by anyone in his last two elections, despite the lopsided GOP enrollment advantage in the 14th District -- Wilson, Cambria and a slice of Newfane. But he denies he has reached a "non-aggression pact" with the Republicans.
"It's a working relationship with the other party in the Legislature. What political chairmen do or don't do is not in my power," Andrews said. But he has crossed party lines in voting on some contentious issues, such as removing some Democratic members from the Industrial Development Agency board and blocking Democratic plans to hire patronage attorneys, both in 2003.
"If you want to get things done for your district, you have to work with the other side," Andrews said. "Look at the federal election results. The extreme partisans lost."
But Andrews said he has no intention of changing his affiliation to the GOP, despite the fact that Democratics hold only five of 19 legislative seats.
"When that [caucus] door opens," he said, "I'm always walking out with them."