September 14, 2009, Washington, D.C. – Amid the recent flurry of activity surrounding the late Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat, a newcomer has shown interest in entering the hotly contested race. Enter Alan Khazei, a 48 year old Iranian American who is best known as the cofounder of City Year, a nationwide community service program for young adults which has garnered much attention in the Boston area. According to Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe, “I can assert confidently, if he were to enter the Senate race, Khazei would be a bold, reformist, and progressive voice in a Democratic primary field, which currently lacks a candidate fitting that tripartite political description.”
A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Khazei cofounded the City Year program in 1988 with approximately 50 young volunteers. Having served as its CEO until 2006, Khazei has watched City Year blossom into a program which now enlists over 1,200 young adults in 15 communities across America and one in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1994, Time Magazine recognized him as one of America’s top 50 outstanding leaders under 40. He is also the recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award and the Jefferson Award for Public Service.
If Khazei decides to enter the race, he will face stiff competition for the prized seat. With the upcoming party primaries scheduled for December 8th and the special election to be held on January 19th, 2010, potential candidates will have a short amount of time to get their campaigns off of the ground. Suggested Democratic candidates include state Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch, Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, James McGovern and William Delahunt. On the Republican side, candidates include Cape Cod businessman Jeff Beatty, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Sen. Scott Brown and Chris Egan, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Cooperation and Development. Khazei himself has stated that he was inspired by Senator Kennedy’s long service and dedication to community service. “I’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by people reaching out to me and encouraging me to think very seriously about it. I can see the tremendous difference a senator can make”, said Khazei.