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Most new staffers on Capitol Hill lament the loss of their free time and say that work now consumes their entire lives. But for newcomer Dan Casto, a former lawyer who just began as legislative director for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, he’s finding the opposite to be true.
“I now feel like I’m able to do things on weekends,” Casto said. “The week hours are the same, but the weekends have been much more free. I’m able to get involved in church and be at home more.”
This is the 27-year-old’s first gig on the Hill. Casto is quickly learning the ropes in the West Virginia Republican’s office, but a major advantage for the newbie staffer is that he is also a native of the Mountain State.
“There’s so much to learn, especially not coming from a Hill position before, so it’s great knowing the heart of the district,” Casto said. “It’s one less thing I have to focus on. I can focus more on the process.”
It’s not entirely surprising that Casto ended up working in government; he has been active in politics since his adolescence. At 18, Casto decided to join the Republican Party’s executive committee in his county, where he could organize voter registration and help local candidates running for office.
However, in West Virginia’s Wood County, being a committee member is an elected office. Casto put himself on the ballot, ran unopposed and won. That feat earned him the title of the youngest elected official in West Virginia after the 2002 elections.
“I got an e-mail from a friend who said I had been on the Clarksburg news,” Casto said. “Secretary of State [Joe] Manchin said I was technically the youngest elected official, and I didn’t even know it!”
After high school, Casto attended Ohio Valley University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He then pursued a law degree from West Virginia University.
Throughout his summers in law school, he worked at several firms doing corporate work and litigation to prepare himself for his post-graduation career.
He also had to balance law school with a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart, Bethany. She was two years younger than Casto and lived a few hours away, so he had to make time to visit her on the weekends while studying. But all the hard work paid off; Casto married Bethany and passed his bar examination as well.