TROY NY CITY COUNCILMAN-ELECT ANASHA CUMMINGS IS SANTA'S SPITTING IMAGE Local Politician Sends Charming, Humorous Holiday Card to Constituents. TROY, N.Y. (12/15/17) -- A young newly elected politician in a small... more »
TROY NY CITY COUNCILMAN-ELECT ANASHA CUMMINGS IS SANTA'S SPITTING IMAGE
Local Politician Sends Charming, Humorous Holiday Card to Constituents.
TROY, N.Y. (12/15/17) -- A young newly elected politician in a small upstate New York city is embracing his striking resemblance to Santa with his first Christmas card to constituents.
Troy City Councilman-elect Anasha B. Cummings, 29, is known for his bushy, bright red beard and hair. Starting today, volunteers will be hand-delivering thousands of constituent holiday postcards featuring a photo of Cummings fully decked in Santa costume in a snowy night… and he definitely pulls off the look!
"The people of Troy's 4th City Council District gave me the best gift of all, which is the honor of representing them starting this January," said Cummings. "I want to thank my constituents by giving them the gift of laughter and joy with this postcard, which will hopefully bring smiles to their faces."
The card is also an homage to Troy, N.Y.'s role in Santa history. On Dec. 23, 1823, the Troy Sentinel newspaper published -- for the first time ever -- the famous poem, "Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas," which is better known by its first line: "'Twas the night before Christmas…"
The magic verses in that poem contain the first complete description of a distinctly American Santa Claus that we know and love around the world today; i.e. a "jolly old elf" with a belly that "shook when he laugh'd like a bowl full of jelly," entering homes "Down the chimney" to deliver gifts to children, and flying through the night in a "miniature sleigh," pulled by "eight tiny reindeer" each given names.
"Since 'The Night Before Christmas' contained the first full description of our American Santa Claus and was first published right here on River Street, that makes Troy's District 4 the birthplace of Santa," Cummings said. "Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus is really from Troy, New York. And he was a ginger before his hair turned white."
Cummings will be sworn into office Jan. 1, starting his first two-year term on city council. Though November marked his first election win for a district seat, Cummings also ran city-wide for an at-large seat in 2015 (the city's three at-large council positions were eliminated by charter revision in 2016). Though he did not secure a victory in 2015, his unique appearance and style of campaigning garnered a lot of positive attention and engaged many citizens who normally avoid politics.
TAKING A FUN-FILLED, ENGAGING CAMPAIGN SERIOUSLY
"Politics are serious business but they have to be interesting and fun in order to engage people," Cummings said. "Our intelligent and playful approach to local politics is designed as an antidote to negative campaigning which deliberately discourages citizens from participating in the political process."
From the start, Cummings' campaigned with a distinctly cheerful mood while championing Troy's creative culture. His online campaign videos, which include a campaign jingle set to the tune of Armor hotdog song, have each garnered several thousand views and have balanced goofy special effects with serious messages.
His campaign literature, or political "palm card," is 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 mask, which has an elastic band stapled to it, is a nod to the candidate's own striking red bushy beard.
"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 was 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."
Cummings has never cut his beard or hair.
Cummings said he will prioritize working to modernize the city's waste system and figuring out a fair cost of service. His other key issues are: improving the city's website so that public information -- such as the city's foreclosed properties for sale list -- is more easily available to the public, through the Internet; fixing the city's water and sewer system, which has multiple points of failure; and enhancing the quality of life of citizens by improving access to our natural space and services in Troy's urban environment.
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), as a project coordinator with Empire Solar and as assistant dock master for the Troy Downtown Marina.
He loves living in Troy because of the natural spaces woven throughout the city.
His website is http://AnashaEst.com
Note: The Anasha Santa Christmas postcard was designed by Ben Karis-Nix. The original photograph is by Neil Grabowsky.