Azadeh ’02 runs for state office
On a cold weekend in December, Anthony Azadeh, a Lewis & Clark senior who is running for state representative in District 38, and 50 of his supporters bundled up good and warm and canvassed the neighborhoods around campus. They carried lawn signs and leaflets and talked to voters in the district about why Azadeh should be their choice in the May Republican primary.
“It’s old-fashioned politics,” says Azadeh, a senior political science major and running back on the football team. “Instead of direct mail, we’re using up shoe leather and going door-to-door.”
Azadeh says voters appreciated the chance to meet him and his supporters and talk about the issues face-to-face. He thinks his youth was also appealing because it disproved the Generation Y stereotype. “They were excited because I was a Lewis & Clark student, that I want to lead a new generation in the new world of the last few months,” he says, referring to terrorist attacks on September 11.
While those events inspired him to run and do his civic duty, the lure of politics has long been in his blood. “I did the student body thing when I was younger,” he says. “But I didn’t really care about whether we got a pop machine or a candy machine. I was more interested in social issues.” By the time he got to Lewis & Clark and studied with Associate Professor of Political Science Robert Eisinger and former U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield, U.G. Dubach Professor of Political Science, his destiny in politics was sealed.
Although he is running as a Republican, he is pro-choice and pro-environment—a liberal Republican much in the spirit of Oregon politicians like Hatfield and Tom McCall. “I’ve been a Republican from day one,” Azadeh says. “My goal is to prove that the Republican Party can be open and diverse. Parties change, and I want to be one of its leaders.”
His primary passion is education, and he is especially concerned about the disparity in resources among schools in the Portland area. He says the time he spent volunteering at Portsmouth Middle School in northeast Portland really opened his eyes to the disparity. He thinks it’s vital to get parents more involved in school districts and to give schools more local control over funding.
Azadeh says the main task he and his supporters have been focusing on is getting the mostly liberal students at Lewis & Clark to switch their registration to the Republican Party so they can vote in the Republican primary in May. He says that many students support his platform and perhaps 50 percent have been willing to switch parties—at least for the primary.
Eisinger, who serves as Azadeh’s thesis adviser, says that one of the joys of working in a small department at a small liberal arts college is that faculty and students get to know each other well. From years of interacting with Azadeh, Eisinger believes he is a natural leader and that his youth isn’t a deterrent.
“Someone with gray hair or a balding head doesn’t make a more qualified candidate,” he says. “Qualifications for public service take many forms. I’d take Anthony’s listening skills and capacity to build friendships and coalitions any day. They are key qualifications to making a winning candidate. And he has a sense of integrity and decency that complements these leadership skills. This combination makes him eminently qualified.”
—by Kathleen Holt