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KSG Student Runs for Maryland Legislature

* Carlson will spend next semester on the campaign trail

By Carlos A. Monje jr., CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A 27-year-old Kennedy School student is getting a jump start on his political career this year as he begins his campaign for a seat in Maryland's State Legislature.

Paul Carlson, a second-year Masters in Public Policy student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (KSG), is running for one of three seats in the House of Delegates in his home district of Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington D.C. with 55,000 registered voters.

"I've been thinking about running for a long time," Carlson said. "I'm looking at the people who are in office now and what they're doing, and I don't agree with their agenda."

"I saw a window of opportunity and I'm going for it," he added.

Carlson, who is in his last year at the KSG, said he plans to finish a heavy course load this semester and then return to Montgomery County for full-time campaigning and part-time studving. He said he plans to finish his master's degree and run in the primary, which will be held next September.

Carlson said his campaign strategy is two-fold: raising as much as $100,000 for campaign expenses and "getting to every voter" door to door. He said he believes two important issues in the race are education and infrastructure.

Carlson, a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, said the biggest obstacle to victory is that the has been away from home for four years. He spent two-and-a-half years at Lehman Brothers, an investment bank, and a year as an elementary school teacher in New York before coming to Cambridge.

However Carlson said he does not see his age as a handicap.

"I am a young guy, I'm going to bring a lot of energy into this campaign and office," he said.

Kennedy School students and faculty have shown support for Carlson's campaign.

"The response has been really great. I think people are excited that someone's going to take what we've learned here and use it right away," Carlson said. He said that several students are helping him plan the campaign, including a fundraising cocktail party planned for tomorrow.

"There are a lot of people here who are into running for office but keep it hush-hush, so I admire him for putting his neck out," said first-year KSG student, Kendra D. Proctor.

Jim R. McCorkell, a first-year student at the Kennedy School, said he is taking classes with Carlson this semester. McCorkell said he is also thinking about public service but that Carlson's candidacy did not intimidate him.

"I'm supportive. We need good people in public life and he seems like a good person," McCorkell said.

Brian S. Mandell, lecturer in Public Policy, who was Carlson's professor last year, praised his former student.

"Many people talk the talk of politics, but Paul has the extraordinary energy, intellect and leadership qualities that make him a natural to walk the walk," Mandell said.

Associate Dean and Director of Degree Programs Joseph J. McCarthy said that Carlson's candidacy reflects highly on the Kennedy School.

"We're excited about Paul," McCarthy said. "We strongly encourage students to get in the fray."

McCarthy added that there are several students and recent alumni who currently hold office.

"I hope this tells them that this is a place that not only produces...analysts but also people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved," he said.

Carlson said he has not yet developed political goals beyond the Maryland state legislature yet.

"Right now this campaign feels like such a huge endeavor, I can't imagine anything else," he said. "I just want to run this thing, win and serving my district well," Carlson said

McCarthy added that there are several students and recent alumni who currently hold office.

"I hope this tells them that this is a place that not only produces...analysts but also people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved," he said.

Carlson said he has not yet developed political goals beyond the Maryland state legislature yet.

"Right now this campaign feels like such a huge endeavor, I can't imagine anything else," he said. "I just want to run this thing, win and serving my district well," Carlson said

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