Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, like most high-profile Democrats lately, has been encouraging young people to get more involved in public service. One of his staffers decided to take his advice.
Three weeks ago, Jared Solomon, 32, left his role as Casey’s legislative assistant and policy adviser to run for the Maryland House of Delegates as a Democrat.
“He was running around the last eight months telling every young person he met that they should get involved,” Solomon said of his former boss.
“As you probably heard from a lot of folks, especially the Democrats, because I have four or five friends probably running for Congress this year, I just got frustrated,” the former staffer said.
Solomon lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and the 18th District he is running in includes Chevy Chase, Kensington, Wheaton, a small part of Rockville, and Silver Spring. (Each district in Maryland elects three delegates.) The primary is in June.
In Casey’s office, Solomon worked on immigration, LGBT and education policy — he was the lead staff negotiator in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015. He said over the last seven months he also “became sort of an honorary member of our health care team.”
Casey has focused on pushing back on cuts to Medicaid and Solomon helped work on the Democratic conference’s stance on how those cuts affect schools. It’s an issue that frustrated him the most.
“Medicaid is an example of when progress [meant just] keeping the system intact,” he said. “Right now, one of the most effective places where we can create change is at the state level. I felt like it was time to get off the sidelines from being the behind-the-scenes staffer and put my hat in the ring.”
While Casey was sad to see him go, he encouraged Solomon to pursue his goal.
“Take the risk, if you fall flat on your face, at least you know you did it,” Solomon recalled the senator telling him.
He said Casey jokingly added, “‘Can’t you go back to Pennsylvania to run? We need you.’”
On Solomon’s last day in the office, Casey’s final piece of advice was: Just win.
The Pennsylvania native and University of Pittsburgh graduate got his first taste of politics interning for the House Judiciary Committee in the summer of 2008 between his first and second year at Teach for America, where he and his wife Emily both started their careers.
Solomon taught in Baltimore and then worked for the school system administration for D.C. Public Schools as a project coordinator on the critical response team.
“We were nicknamed the DCPS firefighters,” he said, because his job included everything from community meetings, working on the school breakfast program and working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to create a new bus route, among other tasks.
“Working at DCPS was a hard job, to say the least,” he said.
Before he joined Casey’s office in 2014, he was vice president of budget policy at First Focus, a national children’s advocacy group.