Chip Off the Old Block
Most of my adult life I have been an active participant in the political world; there have been many thrills, highlights and even a few once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Until two days ago I thought nothing would top last February when my son, Jason, decided he was running for office, requesting my help and counsel.
Frankly, my first impression was to tell him, perhaps it wasn't time. He is an active young man with a wife and two beautiful children, the youngest being only five months old; maybe he should wait a while before starting the demands of a public life.
But Jason knows my weaknesses – I'm a political junkie, a planner and organizer; so, it didn't long for him to convince me. The campaign started and I was again involved, however this time would be different, more personal. It would be my son: Jason Cavey, candidate for Hampstead Town Council.
This wasn't the true start of Jason's political involvement, however. When he was 10, Jason first helped by handing out literature for me at our local precinct on Election Day 1994. Two years later he was working most of a day, by himself, in the rain, at Prettyboy Elementary School for Congressman Bob Ehrlich's re-election. That day was a good lesson on work ethic and it was accomplished without complaint.
Jason grew to understand the campaign process very well and has done all the grunt work – stuffing and labeling envelops, delivering campaign items, specifically signs. By the time he was a senior in high school he was in charge of the" Lawn Sign Hotline;" delivering campaign signs, for several candidates who were running for many different offices in Baltimore County.
He knows Election Day precinct work, too. By 2002, at 18, he had already worked three or four elections. That year I made sure I assigned him to the largest and toughest precinct in our district. I knew he could handle it. He was my best campaigner and a tireless, well-trained worker.
But, meeting the president of the United States, or being comfortable enough as a teen to call your congressman by his first name, doesn't make you a good candidate or even qualify you for public office. Learning and watching your father stumble through the ropes of party politics is not a resumé entry either. It is your moral values and your ability to care for and communicate with people – he knows that, too.
There are few people who don't like Jason Cavey. He is a natural at meeting and greeting people; a young man who listens, learns, is humble and has compassion. He knows how to distinguish right from wrong and has had the opportunity to learn from his father's mistakes. All qualities the current incumbent mayor, Christopher Nevin, recognized when he asked Jason to join his slate.
The Nevin, Babylon and Cavey slate knocked doors as a group on a regular basis. They invited a bunch of friends to knock one Saturday morning for a blitz; in just three hours they covered almost 700 doors in Hampstead. The slate made “Get-Out-The-Vote” phone calls, placed tons of lawn signs, wrote letters to editors, sent mail pieces and all of the other homework it takes to win a public office.
Hampstead has only a single precinct for its municipal elections; turnout was expected to be about 600 or 700 voters. Before 7 A.M. on Election Day, the candidates were out, ready and smiling at the voters. During the day I stopped by twice to check on the candidates and the turnout. Each time Jason looked more anxious. I knew he was a first time candidate with high hopes and Election Day jitters. I knew, too, that one way or the other he would be learning another life lesson.
About an hour before the polling place at Town Hall closed, I sent Jason a text which read: "I want you to remember tonight; be gracious in either winning or losing – it shows character." He replied: "You know I will, that's not an issue." Yeah, I knew it...but it was a good reminder from a father to a son.
An hour later, when the poll finally closed, our family gathered to chat about the day as the votes were being tallied. Jason was visibly and admittedly nervous. He now understood the stress he had witnessed in me during all those election cycles. He just wanted it to be over and have results.
After a long 25 minutes of waiting, the doors to the Town Hall were pushed open and the crowd of 30 was invited to come in and be seated for the official announcement of results. The election supervisor did her due diligence by reading the required, arduously long, legal statements of certification before reciting the vote tally. The wait was almost more than a father could stand; three minutes which seemed like an hour.
As the numbers were read I had tears in my eyes – Jason had won! Not only won, but had the highest vote count of all six council candidates! Today – Thursday, May 12, 2011 – at age 27, he will become Hampstead's newest councilman. Hugs and high fives were in order and applause filled the room. The slate had taken a clean sweep and my firstborn would truly enter public service as an elected official.
As I sat to write this column, I questioned the interest and appeal it might have for The Tentacle's readership. My conclusion was my pride as a father and role as a pontificator of opinion fits perfectly for a first hand story about a young man embarking on a path his father never knew.