Max Blacksten elected MCC representative

McLean Community Center governing board’s youth McLean seats new member


Elliot Smith-Chauss

Sophomore Max Blacksten the day after he won the MCC board seat.

Max Irish, Reporter

Every year, the McLean Community Center holds elections for two youth seats on their governing board. One seat is open to students in the McLean High School district, and the other a Langley district student. This year 9 students ran for these two seats, and Max Blacksten won the McLean seat.

Sophomore Max Blacksten has been active in the community for years, frequently doing activities like teaching at his temple, volunteering at assisted living homes, and even helping to set up school events at Chesterbrook Elementary School.

“I really enjoy doing community service, [and] I especially like [assisting] people who need [the most] help…such as the elderly or kids who have learning disabilities,” Blacksten said.

Blacksten decided to run in March after learning about the election through the school’s Student Services newsletter.

“I thought that I would be great for that job so I looked into it, talked to my parents, and decided I would run for the seat,” Blacksten said.

Since all student voters select one representative from both McLean and Langley’s district, Blacksten chose to run his campaign in tandem with incumbent Langley District representative Ivy Chen.

“I reached out to her to see if she was interested in doing something like this, and she decided to work with me,” Blacksten said.“We spent a significant amount of time talking about a strategy, and from there we got to work.”

Blacksten also needed a campaign manager to manage his social media and to reach out to potential voters. He chose fellow McLean student sophomore Elliot Smith-Chauss.

“I have been friends with Max for years,” Smith-Chauss said. “We met each other through our temple, and we have been friends since.I was excited when he asked me to help with his campaign and I am glad that it paid off and we won.”

Once Blacksten had Smith-Chauss to help him out, he was ready to get to work on his campaign.

“I spent hours reaching out to voters letting them know that I was running and to give them the link to receiving a ballot,” Blacksten said.

Blacksten and his team reached out to over 400 high schoolers to see if they were interested in voting.

“When sending this many messages I created a message that I would send every time and I would just change certain parts to cater to the person I was talking to,” Blacksten said.

The campaign was completely online, which posed some challenges for Blacksten who was not able to reach out to people in person and face-to-face.

“I was sending out a lot of messages per day but wasn’t getting many responses, then one day in the afternoon after I had sent about 25 messages I got several responses from people I didn’t even know telling me they would get a ballot and vote for me,” Blacksten said.

At this point, Blacksten was on a roll. He was sending and receiving numerous messages to members of the McLean district, whether he knew them or not, and they began to request their ballots with him in mind. But after requesting a ballot, students then had to select their two candidates and mail the document back—a process that left Blacksten completely in the dark.

“At this point, I started to reach out to people for a second time to ask if they got their ballot and voted as well, as mailed it back,” Blacksten said. “[As a result], I began to get a sense of how many votes I was going to get.”

Once the voting concluded, the center allotted a few hours for vote counting. The center predicted they would call the winner around 9 p.m. at night.

“That night I had my Jewish confirmation. It began at 7 and was supposed to finish around 9,” Blacksten said.“The timing was bad, but I hoped to be finished [in time] to get the call. I went on with my confirmation and it went great, [and] as I finished and walked out of the temple I got a call. It was perfect timing, and the lady said congratulations and that I had won. I was incredibly happy and I was able to celebrate right there with Elliot [Smith-Chauss].”

Blacksten will hold the seat for one year until the next election, with his tenure starting early this summer.

“I hope to vote for many new policies helping the students of McLean so that they can enjoy all that the community center has to offer, and I am grateful to all the people who helped to get me to this position,” Blacksten said.