When Chris Hamilton was in middle school, he “thought people who got involved with politics were crazy.” But since then, he’s changed his mind. On January 16 Hamilton, a PHC senior in the American Politics and Policy program, announced his candidacy for a seat on the Purcellville Town Council.
“I’ve realized that being in politics can help people, and keep the government from hurting people,” Hamilton said. “That’s what I’m passionate about.”
Hamilton’s platform has three main components: promoting generational growth, protecting property rights, and stopping harmful exceptions for special interests. According to Hamilton, many of the new proposals to grow the town and incorporate new businesses into Purcellville will devalue local property and hurt small businesses.
After looking for ways to be more involved in Purcellville, Hamilton grew concerned over several proposals being before the council. These issues included the annexation of parts of the town into Loudoun County and the building of mixed residential and commercial buildings in certain areas of Purcellville. Hamilton believed these would be detrimental to the town’s well-being.
“Decisions that would just be making money for the town, and not because it’s good for the town residents,” Hamilton explained. “These constructions would change how Purcellville feels and residents there would have a lower quality of life. It would also devalue the surrounding properties.” He is concerned about how to help the town grow without negative long term impacts on the town’s character.
Hamilton began planning his campaign last December. He hired PHC junior Thaddeus Tague as his campaign manager and has three other PHC students interning for his campaign. This year’s election is an open election and there are three seats on the council to fill.
“It’s really cool to help a PHC student run for office,” Tague said. “And it’s a good resume builder for the kind of work I want to do.”
While Hamilton is significantly younger than any of the Town Council’s current members, he believes this gives him an advantage.
“I think it’s good to have people who are not part of the system… who are not set in their ways,” he explained. “Principles are more important than playing the political game.”
Tague, who has worked for a number of political campaigns, explained that a campaign for a local election is primarily driven by personality, not political parties. One of Hamilton’s challenges will be to build name recognition with local voters.
“There is less need for a big social media setup or infrastructure,” Tague explained. “You focus more on getting money from donors and connecting with voters. People want to actually talk to the candidate, and not just an intern.”
“It’s about connecting what I want to do to who I am,” Hamilton added. “The issues I’m talking about may seem mundane, but this is really what affects people’s lives in tangible ways.”
As an APP student, Hamilton has an opportunity to apply his skills from the classroom to the campaign. “I learned how to campaign (at PHC), and it prepared me to make good decisions for the town,” Hamilton said.
However, the timing of the election means that Hamilton has an incredibly busy schedule. Currently, he is enrolled in International Relations and Latin IV at PHC, working full time, and running a campaign. To make things better, the election falls on the last day of finals week.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Hamilton laughed.