The Wichitan

In the running

Brittney Cottingham

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City council hopeful Casey O’Donnell hopes MSU students will contribute to his campaign. (Photo by Kassie Bruton)

While some seniors count down the days to graduation, Casey O’Donnell is leading campaign meetings and gathering registered voters. He’s running for Wichita Falls City Council.

O’Donnell, a political science major, hopes to named the District 3 councilor seat on May 15.

Elections being May 12.

If elected, he would be the youngest city councilor in the past 20 years.

The city council is an advisory board over the decisions of the city. Council duties include approving the city budget and hearing concerns brought to the city’s attention.

The 21-year-old, who will be graduating in May, said his chances are good because of the great support surrounding him.

“I have received a lot of support toward my campaign from a lot of people,” he said. “What has surprised me is the level of support from individuals I didn’t know before the campaign process. This help has been instrumental in my campaign so far.”

He said when he saw his district’s seat was up for election, it was his opportunity to serve the people of Wichita Falls and have a positive impact on the city.

“I always saw it as the best avenue to truly be able to make a difference and impact people’s lives,” he said

From a young age, this Pennsylvania native has a vested interest in politics.

O’Donnell has been involved in the Teen Court Program and even elected president of the Junior Bar Association. After graduating from Rider High School in 2009, he came to Midwestern to pursue his bachelor’s in political science with a minor in history.

After his final semester in May, O’Donnell intends to enter into the master’s programs of public administration, which he says he will continue to pursue even if elected.

He said it is important to get involved in city government because it is involved in every aspect of citizens’ lives.

“The toothpaste we use is regulated by the federal government, the water we receive is from the city, the roads we drive on are maintained by the city, and the taxes we pay are controlled by the government,” he explained. “When you really think about it, government is one of the most involved institutions in our lives and if we aren’t involved and aware we can’t protect what matters most to us.”

His goals are to be heavily involved in the public sector. According to O’Donnell, that is where he can make the biggest difference in people’s lives.

“My greatest strength as a politician is my ability to see and understand the perspective of all individuals involved whether I agree or disagree with their views,” he said.

This is one of the many lessons O’Donnell has picked up through his years in the political science department. He credits his education at MSU with preparing him for this election.

“We have a really great group of professors that all bring something unique to the table and all of them have given me a great understanding of the field,” he said.

Local business owner and MSU alumni, Brian Hooker has also qualified to run for the seat. Despite the 11-year age difference between himself and his

other candidates, his entire life’s goal and passion has been to be in the public sector.

“Most candidates are very successful in another field first such as business or law and later in life decide to venture into politics,” he said. “My plan is to start and end my career in politics and give it my full dedication.”

Dr. Michael Preda, one of O’Donnell’s biggest influences, has been his adviser and taught a number of his courses during the past three years.

Preda was also the adviser for Hooker when he attended Midwestern.

“(O’Donnell) is an excellent political science student,” Preda said. “Since I know both candidates, one as a current student and the other as an alumnus, I find them both to be fine young gentlemen and responsible citizens of Wichita Falls.”

Dr. Jeremy Duff said the political science department offers several classes that spend time discussing campaigns and elections, especially within the American politics block.

“I’m proud of Casey for choosing to run,” Duff said. “We encourage our students to be proactive in the community and to involve themselves in politics. I wish him well, and at the very least hope he learns something valuable from this experience.”

Through the election process over the last month, O’Donnell said he has learned a lot about the behind the scenes details that happen during an election.

“I am definitely not working alone on this and have been lucky to have a lot of support,” he said.

His family has helped him set and run campaign events while his fiancée is in charge of his social media approach.

O’Donnell admires the political aspects of President James K. Polk and President George W. Bush’s ability to guide America through 9/11

“I can bring a new perspective to the council that they can more closely relate to,” he said. “I genuinely just want to do my best to help the people of Wichita Falls and I will make every effort possible to make this city a better place.


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In the running