For the enviably viable print platform of Washington City Paper, I wrote this week about Tiffany Alston, a soon-to-be-member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She got to the statehouse because Abe Pollin was a good guy. Really. Pick up a copy, read the column, spend a few days’ pay on beer-can-hats and artsy-fartsily crushed pennies at Crafty Bastards.
The Cliff’s Notes Version: In 1988, when Alston attended Seat Pleasant Elementary, Pollin came to the school and promised her and all her fifth-grade classmates that he’d pay for their college educations so long as they graduated high school. Alston grew up to take full advantage of Pollin’s benevolence: He paid for her to get an undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland and a law degree at UDC. He also bought her a lot of lunches and concert tickets along the way, and provided the sort of inspiration that money can’t buy.
When Pollin died last November, Alston spoke at his funeral and came away motivated to take her first shot at politics. And, after waging a campaign run by another member of Pollin’s adopted class, Alston won.
I had been talking to Alston now and then over the years, ever since I found out she was a member of Pollin’s “adopted” class. But I was not aware she was running for office. I only learned about her win when looking at the election results for Maryland’s 24th District during the recent Democratic Primaries in Maryland. I was interested in that race because Michael Vaughn, a candidate who falsely claimed on a campaign web site to have played three years with the Dallas Cowboys, was also running.
Both Alston and Vaughn were among the three winners, out of a field of 10 candidates, in the race for Democratic Party nominations for the three House of Delegates slots in the District. No Republican candidates have registered to oppose them in the general election, so a primary win all but guarantees them each seats.
Alston’s feel-good tale provided an equal and opposite reaction to Vaughn’s feel-bad story. I was really taken by Alston’s courage, and touched by all the gratitude she has for Pollin. He came into her life 22 years ago, and is still a positive influence. Now she wants to pay his good deeds forward, and is hoping to establish a scholarship in Pollin’s name for students in her home district — which includes the ground the old Capital Centre stood on before its 2002 demolition, and Seat Pleasant Elementary School. I gotta say, it’s not every day I come across a story that hits me like Alston’s life story did. My faith in humanity is almost restored!
Michael Vaughn who?