Meet Mike Zumbluskas
Get to know the man behind the movement, his life, what he stands for, and what his plans are for our city!
Public Advocate candidate
Michael K. Zumbluskas has been a leader in the independent political movement in New York and nationwide for the past 25 years. He is committed to “practical government that works for all” and reforming the electoral system. Over the past 25 years Mike has led voter registration and party enrollment drives throughout New York, and worked as a campaign advisor for numerous Independent, Republican and Democratic candidates. He has appeared on many television programs as a studio panelist on electoral reform and grassroots activism. Mike currently works as a resource management analyst for the New York City Department of Transportation.
Mike was born to John and Ann Marie Zumbluskus on Mitchell Air Force Base in Hempstead, New York. His father was a career United States Air Force (USAF) non-commissioned officer who served in Vietnam. Growing up as a USAF “brat” in the 1970s, but moving every few years, was never a childhood problem. However, his father’s humble military pay did not go far. Raising a family of four children was challenge. Moving every few years made Mike a well-rounded and understanding man.
Mike learned one of his most valuable lessons in life when he was about 10 years old. He asked his father for money to go with friends on a day trip to an amusement park. His father replied, “Do you have the money?” When Mike said no, his father told him that was the answer! Mike got that message and began to earn money at that young age by shoveling sidewalks, cutting lawns, and doing paper routes and many odd end jobs.
Unfortunately, there were downsides to having a parent who wore a military uniform in the 1970s. There was ample opportunity for someone say something derogatory and it didn’t matter that Mike or his siblings were with him. One incident remains in Mike’s memory. When he was 12 years old, he was proudly walking with his father, who had just returned from Vietnam, when a protester spit at his dad while calling him a baby killer.
From kindergarten to his senior year in high school, Mike attended 10 different schools around the world. He began kindergarten on the island of Okinawa, in Japan, and graduated from high school in Aviano, Italy, but attending a school in Denver was particularly eye-opening when he was in the minority. The cultural shock was not related to race, but from the socioeconomic disparity between his military friends and his new classmates. Being an Air Force brat meant growing up in a mixed community. However, that community was mostly in the same economic class.
Mike was an average student but always up for challenges. His records were lost in transition during the start of his eighth grade year, so he decided to take accelerated math, history and science classes. Midway through the first semester his transcripts caught up to him. The principal wanted to take him out of the classes, but his teachers told the principal that he belonged in those classes.
Mike was a tenacious athlete, but when he tried out for the football team in junior year of high school in Italy, he was cut from the team due to his small stature. When Mike asked the head coach if he could practice with the team, being too old for pop warner football, amazingly, the coach agreed. During that year, the team’s star wide receiver was knocked out for the season and everyone’s morale was shattered. Sensing this, Mike practiced harder than ever and with so much enthusiasm that he helped break the team’s malaise. Seeing Mike’s efforts, the coaching staff made him a member of the team.
Mike’s asthma prevented him from following in his father’s footsteps in joining the Air Force after graduating from high school in 1979. Instead, he became the first person in his family to go to college. He moved in with his grandmother in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and enrolled in Lackawanna Junior College about a week and a half into the first semester, since it was too late to apply and enroll in a four-year university. He made a number of friends at the University of Scranton, so he applied there and subsequently attended his sophomore year.
Even though he was given student loans and awarded grants, Mike still had to work full time in multiple jobs – mostly minimum-wage dishwashing jobs – to make ends meet. He took 18 credit hours per semester and six credit hours during each summer, earning his B.A. in history in 1983.
Post-collegiately, Mike moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where his father was then stationed. The economy was at a low point, his student loans were coming due, and he was turned down for another job. He was in the Army a few weeks later when he spoke with an Army recruiter.
Mike was sent from Denver to basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and he was a calming influence on many of his fellow new recruits twice in less than 24 hours. His upbringing in the military gave him the ability to remain calm when the airplane hit the tail end of a hurricane and one of his fellow recruits began to panic, and, subsequently, all the electricity was out in the Louisville area when they left the airport late that evening. Since the beginning of his time in the military, whenever someone had a problem, they usually came to Mike first.
Mike served as a petroleum supply specialist in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1987 in Nuremberg, Germany and Fort Bliss, Texas. He served in the Second and Third Cavalry units, charged with transporting and refueling tanks and helicopters.
Mike has worked multiple jobs in various industries throughout his life. He’s been a bank teller, customer service representative, accountant, executive assistant, and currently as a resource management analyst for the New York City Department of Transportation. He’s worked in large and small companies, the nonprofit industry, governments and even as part owner of the startup wrestling company.
Mike’s first permanent job in New York City was at Scudder Stevens and Clark, a mutual fund company. He was originally hired as a temporary worker to do one specific task; however, Mike completed the task well before lunch, so he went to his boss and asked for more work. After a month and a half, he had taken so many items from the different accountants in the firm that he created his own job. He worked there for almost eight years.
Mike began his political career in 1992 as a volunteer coordinator on H. Ross Perot’s presidential campaign, and thereafter served on the state board of United We Stand America. In 1995, Mike joined Independence Party of New York (IPNY), serving as the vice-chair of its Manhattan chapter from 1998 to 2000.
The Independence Party partook in forming the Reform Party of the United States of America (RPUSA) in Kansas City in 1997; Mike was one of its delegates. In 1999, he ran for the Reform Party vice-chairmanship to prevent the notorious anti-Semite Lenora Fulani from gaining the position. While he failed to win, he not only succeeded in blocking Fulani, but attracted the attention of The New York Times, which named him as one of the RPUSA movement’s “more serious strategists.”
In 2005, Mike was elected to the IPNY’s state executive committee after playing a leading role in the removal of Fulani and her extremist team from the New York Independence Party (NYIP) on grounds that their totalitarian views were incompatible with those of the party.
In 2001, the NYIP disaffiliated itself from the National Reform Party because Pat Buchanan’s forces had taken over the party. In early 2008, the Independence Party re-affiliated with RPUSA, and Mike was elected to the Reform Party National Committee, serving as chairman of the party’s 2008 national convention where the RPUSA nominated Sen. John McCain as their presidential candidate. The national committee elected Mike chairman of the Reform Party’s legal committee he headed from March 2008 to Jan. 2010. He continues to stay active on the national level. Mike was instrumental in getting Gov. Gary Johnson on the New York State Independence Party line for the current presidential race.
Mike has been a consultant on numerous campaigns from local city council races to presidential campaigns. He has worked on campaigns in all five boroughs of New York City and even helped candidates in other states. Mike has held the positions of, treasurer, petition coordinator, volunteer coordinator and campaign manager. One of his biggest accomplishments was running George McDonald’s successful petition drive in 2013.