November 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm EST | by Santiago Melli-Huber
G-town student, 20, earns distinction in local race
Craig Cassey, Georgetown University, ANC, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, gay news, Washington Blade

Georgetown University sophomore Craig Cassey says tension between students and residents inspired him to run. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Georgetown University sophomore was on track this week to become what he claims will be the youngest openly gay elected official in the country, running for a special ANC Commission post for Ward 2E, a campus-specific seat.

Craig Cassey, 20, ran as a write-in candidate. The Board of Elections didn’t have numbers available as of Blade press time this week, but Cassey says he was running unopposed. He knows of no one else conducting a write-in campaign for the seat. If he wins, he’ll be sworn in in January and serve with seven other members of his commission.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund confirmed that a Cassey victory would be unprecedented for an LGBT elected official.

“We’ve checked and can find no out elected official as young as him anywhere in the country,” Denis Dison, a spokesperson for the Victory Fund, wrote in an e-mail. A representative from the D.C. Board of Elections said this week that their office should have estimates of the number of write-ins in the race this week, but that official numbers and the names of the candidates could take weeks to confirm.

Cassey hopes to inspire young people if he wins.

“In the same way, I think being the youngest openly gay elected official will motivate others and will allow younger gay and lesbian teens to see that you can be elected as a gay person. Politics is something … you don’t have to shy away from for fear of persecution,” he said.

Cassey said he went the write-in route because the lack of students on campus during summer, when petition signatures to get on the ballot must be gathered, made it difficult to secure enough to get on the ballot. He tried but came up two short of the 25 needed. Students switching dorms made it hard to find enough during summer who knew where they’d be for fall, he said. The matter was further complicated by a redistricting process that occurred last year affecting the makeup of the district for which he’s running.

Cassey, a psychology and philosophy major, hopes to earn a master’s degree in applied positive psychology and use it to help gay teens realize their potential and role in the world.

In reference to his sexual orientation and age, Cassey has not experienced any criticism in his bid for office. Looking back on the anti-gay assaults against Georgetown students in recent years, Cassey expressed relief at the changing culture.

“In today’s campus climate, we can have an openly gay candidate run, and it’s really not a big issue.”

Cassey recently won the Victory Fund’s Onward to Victory contest, which earned him an all-expenses-paid trip to the Fund’s Candidate & Campaign Training in Long Beach, Calif., at the end of November.

“Craig is what this country needs,” said Jack Jacobson, openly gay ANC Ward 2B commissioner. “He’s young and gay, which are two underrepresented demographics. He’s standing up and giving them a seat at the table. It will make a positive impact for the entire community.”

Jacobson ran unopposed for the Ward 2 seat of the D.C. State Board of Education.

Early on in Cassey’s time at Georgetown, he noticed tension between the student body and the surrounding community. He decided to run for a seat on the ANC because he saw the potential to build a stronger sense of community between the two populations.

He hopes to promote more student involvement in the Georgetown community and encourage students to volunteer in the area. He would also like to see Georgetown University hold more events to engage young, local families.

  • Forgetting the gay angle here, what you have highlighted is the entire problem with the ANC structure: apathy. He couldn’t get the 25 signatures needed to get on the ballot so he runs as a write-in candidate and gets elected with a whopping 9 votes!

  • There aren’t many students on any campus in August, when petitions had to be gathered. Many of the people registered in the SMD had since graduated and moved away. There really was no option of collecting the required signatures. While nine voters wrote-in a name, the number of previously unregistered people almost entirely living in dorms, that registed to vote and wrote in Craig is not yet known. It is expected to be far larger than 9.

    In most SMDs, hundreds of people voted for ANC candidates. Considering that almost total lack of publicity of these races, the number is fairly substantial.

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