U.S. Rep.-elect Casten talks moving to D.C., climate change

Democratic U.S. Rep.-elect Sean Casten talks to the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Oct. 16 in Crystal Lake.
Democratic U.S. Rep.-elect Sean Casten talks to the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Oct. 16 in Crystal Lake.

U.S. Rep.-elect Sean Casten will have to do a little more walking in the halls of the nation’s capital.

The Downers Grove Democrat who defeated incumbent Republican Peter Roskam during the midterm election will represent the state’s 6th Congressional District when he’s sworn in Thursday.

During a Dec. 27 interview with the Northwest Herald, Casten said he’ll be working in one of the less sought-after offices on Capitol Hill.

He participated in a traditional room lottery drawing Nov. 30.

Every freshman member of the House of Representatives picked a chip bearing a number from 1 to 85. Because there is no seniority, members who chose a chip with a low number were among the first to choose their offices.

Less desirable offices are farther away from the House chamber and are small, Casten said. Casten, a biochemist and entrepreneur, said he wasn’t so lucky.

“It went about as bad as it could,” Casten said with a laugh. “The way the process works is you pick numbers in alphabetical order, and then you pick rooms based on the number you picked. As a guy with a last name that comes early in the alphabet, I was the seventh pick overall.”

It’s customary for members participating in the lottery to do a good luck ritual before choosing their chip.

“I turned around and asked the room, I said, ‘I’d like you all to please pray to the mojo of Colin Allred,’ ” Casten joked.

U.S. Rep.-elect Allred, D-Texas, plucked his chip right before Casten and got No. 4.

Casten’s prayers went unanswered.

“I reached in the bucket and pulled 80 out of 85,” he said. “Suffice it to say, for the rest of the day, nobody prayed to the mojo of Colin Allred.”

The silver lining is Casten said he’ll receive more exercise while walking around the Capitol.

Despite his less than prime office, Casten said he’s been mentored by more senior politicians from Illinois.

“The good news is that people have done this before,” he said. “You try to do your best to learn from the people who have experience. ... I’ve been fortunate enough to have people like Bill Foster, like Sen. Dick Durbin, like Robin Kelly who’ve been very gracious with their time and their wisdom.”

Addressing climate change

Casten campaigned on a promise to help address climate change.

He said the science behind the issue no longer is up for debate.

“Frankly, somebody who doesn’t believe that the science behind global warming is happening, and is real and directly responsible for what we’re seeing right now, is about as relevant as somebody who doesn’t believe that gravity is real,” Casten said. “We have to deal with the facts as they lie, not the facts as we want them to be. ... It’s frightening.”

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