Join Anasha Cummings For City Council At-large, Aug. 11 @ Takk House
TROY, N.Y. (08/03/15) -- A Troy City Council candidate aims to run on his own “Red Beard” ballot line in the coming November election.
Anasha Cummings, 26, must collect 435 valid independent nominating petition signatures by Aug. 18 in order for the Red Beard line to appear on the ballot amongst more familiar political lines, such as Democratic, Republican, WFP, and Green.
Genial and soft-spoken, Cummings has mountains of long bright red hair on his head and face. People often compare him to the character Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies.
“There were people who said ‘Oh you could never win an election with a beard like that,’” said Cummings, who announced his campaign in April. “I don’t want to change the way I am in order to run for office.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Cummings’ supporters will host a “Red Beard Party Convention” at the Takk House, a unique downtown Troy event venue located at 55 3rd St. The free admission event will feature music by DJ Trumastr and a cash bar by Rare Form Brewing Company.
Guests, who are eligible, will add their signatures to the Red Beard independent nominating petition. Voter registration forms will be available. Donations to “Anasha Est,” the committee to elect Anasha Cummings, will be welcome.
Red Beard is Best Campaign Swag Since Billy Possum
Every guest at the Red Beard Party Convention will receive a wearable cardstock red beard mask, featuring a hand-illustrated cartoon beard by local artist Ben Karis-Nix on the front and information about Cummings’ campaign on the backside.
“The Anasha Red Beard mask is the best campaign swag since Billy Possum,” boasted campaign communications consultant Duncan Crary in joking reference to the stuffed opossum dolls created in 1909 by supporters of President William H. Taft in an effort to supplant the popular Teddy (Roosevelt) Bear.
Talk to the Beard
Once he started appearing in news photographs, Cummings says his striking red hair and beard has been a useful tool in his campaign efforts.
“When I’m walking on the street, it’s quite often that someone will come up to me and say ‘Hey you’re the guy running for office,’ and then I’ll have an interesting conversation with a constituent,” Cummings said. “It’s really helpful as a candidate to be this recognizable and to be able to be seen and flagged down from across the street. People come over and talk to me about what they want addressed or what they’re concerned about in our city.”
Why Form New Ballot Line?
As a “life-long” registered Democrat, Cummings will be competing in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary against four other candidates for one of three at-large spots on that party ballot line. Cummings did not seek the endorsement of the Democratic Committee in favor of appealing directly to party members. He is backed by Team Troy, a coalition of nine candidates running together with Working Families Party support. It is possible he may appear on the Democratic, WFP and Red Beard ballot lines this November.
The practice of candidates appearing multiple times on the same ballot on the general election is called “electoral fusion” or “cross-endorsing.” New York State is one of seven states that allow fusion voting, which lets citizens vote for a candidate on the line they support.
“I believe strongly in the power of democracy. But I have many supporters who don’t belong to a political party and don’t want to, because they feel disenfranchised by political insiders,” Cummings said. “The Red Beard line is not a formal political party, so it offers a way for anyone to vote for me without having to lend support to a specific party. Plus it is fun.”
Anasha Est: A Unique Campaign
The committee to elect Anasha Cummings for Troy City Council, at-large, is “Anasha Est.” The name is a cheery nod to the City of Troy motto, “Ilium fuit, Troja est” (trans. “Troy was, Troy is”).
“‘Anasha Est’ means ‘Anasha is,’” said Crary. “We chose this motto because it expresses our commitment to running a campaign that honestly and unapologetically embraces who Anasha is: a jovial, thoughtful, compassionate young man with a striking ginger mane.”
This unique campaign has a distinctly cheerful mood, as well. The four online campaign videos issued so far have featured equally goofy special effects (like Cummings running slow motion through a real rainbow, or chatting with a Star Wars Storm Trooper, or seeming to float cross-legged in front of a waterfall) with serious content, such as the need for various local transportation infrastructure investments and the benefit of an improved trail and park system in the City of Troy. Each of the videos has garnered more than 2,000 views a piece with dozens of supportive comments and shares.
“We believe that politics should be fun, educational and enjoyable,” Crary said. “Ultimately, we feel our intelligent and playful approach to local politics will engage the greatest number of voters and denizens in Troy, N.Y.”
About Anasha Cummings
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Anasha Cummings moved to Troy to study Design, Innovation, and Society at RPI. During his time at RPI, he became deeply involved in local sustainability and neighborhood organizing. He has worked as an intern for Congressman Paul Tonko, a VISTA sustainability coordinator for Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), and as a project coordinator with Empire Solar. His website is http://AnashaEst.com
For high-resolution publicity photographs and videos of Anasha Cummings featuring Troy icons wearing red beards, visit the following Dropbox link: http://cl.ly/c8YO