Doherty: a new breed of politician

by Justin Steinman | 6/30/94 5:00am

Brendan Doherty '96 likes to think of himself as someone who accomplishes things.

"I like getting stuff done," said Doherty in his third term as the president of the Class of 1996. "I like making an impact, making a difference."

But unlike most politicians, Doherty said he gets more enjoyment from the craft rather than the final product.

"I like the process as much as I like the final goal," Doherty said. "Getting the final goal accomplished is wonderful ... but just going through the whole process, talking to the different people, that's what I like."

But then again, Doherty is probably not your average politician.

Most members of the Class of 1996 probably recognize Doherty as the person who signs his name at the end of all those "96-Class-Council" Blitzmail messages announcing study breaks, Panda House dinners and other activities.

What many of these students probably don't know is the amount of effort and number of hours that go into planning these events. And more importantly, they probably don't know the amount of work Doherty personally does to make sure each event actually happens.

"Brendan is incredibly dedicated to what he does," said Tom Caputo '96, who serves as Doherty's vice-president on the Class Council. "He gives 110 percent all the time."

Doherty admits, almost sheepishly, to working long hours for the Class Council. In an interview Tuesday morning in the offices of The Dartmouth, Doherty estimated he spends about five to ten hours a week working for Class Council, although it sometimes exceeds even that amount.

However, Doherty stresses that he really enjoys what he does.

"People see the final package. They see the stuff we do and the events we put on," he explained."But they don't see all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes -- the daily blitzes, the weekly agendas, the meetings with different people, contacting people to keep in touch on certain projects. I actually like all that stuff, but it takes up so much time it's ridiculous. It's Tuesday. I haven't picked up a school book yet, and I've been here a week."

So what does Doherty think of his job?

"My job description would be organizer and coordinator for an energetic and dynamic group that tries to organize events to bring the class together -- which is rather difficult when you have a thousand people -- events that most or at least different parts of the class will enjoy or get something out of," he said. "But there are a lot of the little things we do. People often randomly blitz Tom and I questions, like who do I talk to about this or I'm confused about that. Just the little things like that are very important also. We just help out."

Not your typical politician

Doherty, 20, is a geography major who applied early decision to Dartmouth. He graduated from Cheshire High School in Connecticut.

Although he is entering his second year as class president, Doherty neither looks nor acts the role of politician. He is more often found wearing a T-shirt and shorts than a coat and tie. He does not spend his time talking about politics or bragging about what he has accomplished.

Instead, Doherty would rather give the credit to other people.

"Tom and I do so much work, but the Council is the key," he said. "We've got a great group of energetic people. Tom and I get little credit, but they get even less."

But when the topic of Class Council is raised, it becomes apparent Doherty loves working on it. A big smile appears on his face, and his speech becomes progressively faster as he gets increasingly excited about what the 1996 Class Council has planned.

"This summer we have a ton of things planned," Doherty said "Basically, we want to go crazy with programming and want to have a lot of events. The whole class is here at once and hasn't been here at once since freshman year and won't be here again until senior year."

Some of the events Doherty said the Class Council has planned include class barbecues, a series of "drive-in style" movies to be shown on the side of Blunt Alumni Hall, a trip to the Big Apple Circus in Lyme, a series of Career Services workshops and Sophomore Family Weekend.

Politician or student?

For any politician, it is often hard to separate one's personal life from one's public life. As a student on a small campus, Doherty said he, too, is never really able to stop being class president, no matter how hard he tries.

"Sometimes when I'm out and about -- especially on weekends -- I like to put it all behind me," he said. "But people will come up to me in fraternity basements and ask me stuff about Class Council.

Often on the weekends, I just want to put it aside, but often, I don't. And I don't get the chance to ... It is rather odd. I used to worry when I was out about being class president, presenting an image, but you just be yourself and you have fun and everything works out."

Despite all the time he works in politics, Doherty said he actually hates politics.

"The other day at registration, I spent too much time being a politician, which I frankly hate," he said. "I don't like it when people say, 'This is Brendan. He's our class president.' I give admissions tours, and I don't mention that. I usually tell the other stuff I do, like the two years I spent as a security guard at the Hood Museum."

"But I do enjoy being class president," he said. "It's been a lot of fun. If I didn't enjoy it, then I wouldn't do it."

No interest in political fighting

Doherty said he has no desire for negative politics and will probably run for re-election as class president next spring. Both he and Caputo were unopposed in their respective bids for re-election during the 1994 Spring term.

"We were wondering what it was attributable to," Doherty said of running unopposed. "Some people say it's because we're doing such a good job. But it could be due to apathy also. Or it could be a combination of the two. We're not really sure. But that was really nice, and I'll take it as a compliment some ways."

Doherty said he has no interest in running for Student Assembly President next year.

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