EDENTON, NC – It’s Southern politics, but with an Upstate New York flavor. A huge dose of Oswego common sense will take a seat in the North Carolina Senate on Jan. 1, 2019.
Port City native Robert Steinburg is the senator-elect for the largest senate district in North Carolina.
“The opportunity came up for a run for Senate — it’s the largest geographic district in the state – encompassing 11 counties. And, I won,” Steinburg told Oswego County Today. “I put 40,000 miles on my car campaigning. Unbelievable.”
Though he’s been away for many years, his hometown still has a special place in his heart.
“I love Upstate New York. My roots are still there,” he said.
Born in 1948, he has three brothers; two (John and Bill) in Syracuse and the other (Larry) in Oswego.
He graduated from Oswego High School in 1966 and has been married to the former Marie Micelli for 47 years.
Dealing with people one-on-one is something he learned in Oswego.
“Everybody in Oswego is connected, like a big family. At least the old guard is that way. It’s a network, a bond that exists between me an Oswego,” he said. “A lot has changed – technology, social media have gotten in the way of personal contact.”
“We’ve moved away from the ‘front porch’ where we see and talk to everybody to the ‘back yard’ with a fence. Not so subtle message that we’re alone and don’t need to have personal contact with others. We have gotten away from the person-to-person contact. Technology has driven a wedge between us in many areas.”
Over the years, he has built up a good network system.
Steinburg worked in the diamond business and traveled extensively, eventually living in Richmond for 28 years.
He now lives in Edenton, a small North Carolina town of about 5.000.
“We’re in an area reminiscent of Oswego’s Montcalm Park neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s just a couple blocks from the water. It’s been called the prettiest town in the South.”
Steinburg authored The Conservative View Point column. In doing so, he did a lot of research on his topics.
“I like to write and one thing led to another,” he explained. “The more research I did on things, the more I thought, ‘I am well informed on many issues – I’d like to make a difference.’”
The lure of public service was calling.
The opportunity arose and he ran and was elected to the NC State House. He was re-elected twice.
His solid record helped him get elected to the Senate.
“You should help your worst enemy. Forget politics. Do what’s right for the people. That’s what you were elected for,” he said. “It’s just the right thing to do. “
Some people think it’s a part-time job. It’s not
“You try to do everything but there are time constraints,” he said. “Serve the people, not yourself. It’s an honor to serve. People know that I like to help; to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.”
“I’m there; I never refuse a request from someone. I do what I can to help. I even answer my own phone. People are surprised to find me on the line and not some staffer. I return calls, letters and e-mails myself. Most of my colleagues don’t do that,” he continued. “If you get results for people, they will call you.”
His hallmark is constituent service.
He has helped someone not in his district resolve an issue. There have been others. When people from other districts call with a problem, he puts them in contact with their own representatives.
“When my constituents come to the office I say, ‘come on in this is your office, I just work here and represent you. I know who I work for. You’re the boss,’” he said. “They’ll always have my ear. It’s the only way to operate. I don’t benefit from public service. The public should be the ones to benefit.”
Steinburg said he is there “to serve the people; not just my constituents but the entire community.”