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GW alum hopes to usher in new generation of leaders to US House

If elected, Joe Vogel, a 2018 graduate and Maryland General Assembly delegate, would be the second Gen Z member of Congress.
Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Democrat Joe Vogel, a 2018 graduate and a Maryland General Assembly delegate representing Gaithersburg and Rockville, would be running for Maryland’s 6th District in the House of Representatives.

A recent GW alum is hoping to bring in a new generation of young people to the House of Representatives after launching his campaign in May.

Democrat Joe Vogel, a 2018 graduate and a Maryland General Assembly delegate representing Gaithersburg and Rockville, announced in May that he would run for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District against nine other Democrats. The 26-year-old Vogel said he believes his generation will bring action on issues like climate change and gun control and hopes to be part of a new era of young leaders as the second Gen Z representative to be elected to Congress.

Vogel returned to campus to speak at a Shabbat dinner at GW Hillel on Friday.

I’ve always been someone that’s really cared about making an impact, in part by electing leaders who share my values.

— Joe Vogel

Vogel said, if elected, he hopes to continue to advocate for the same issues he’s pushed to solve in the state legislature, including the mental health crisis, the fentanyl overdose epidemic, climate change and adding more jobs. Vogel — who is Jewish, an Uruguayan immigrant and gay — said he brings perspectives to Congress that have been missing from the chamber.

“We need not only a new generation of leaders, but we need leaders that reflect this community and aren’t just coming in from a different district trying to buy this election,” Vogel said in an interview with The Hatchet. 

During his time as a state delegate, Vogel has sponsored bills to recruit and retain more mental health professionals for public schools, help boost startups working to end climate change and passed legislation that requires hospitals test for fentanyl when treating overdose patients.

“Those are examples of issues that I’ve led on, I’ve showed that I have a record on, and now I get to run for Congress with those priorities in mind with that record to prove that I have what it takes to deliver,” Vogel said. 

Vogel said he was 15 years old when a gunman killed 20 students and six school employees in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. He said this shooting, and the lack of action thereafter for enhanced gun control, inspired him to major in political science at GW and then enter politics.

“I remember feeling this, at that moment, this frustration, that even after something like that happens, right, five- and six-year-olds get shot in their schools, nothing changes,” Vogel said.

After graduating from GW, Vogel received his master’s in public policy from Harvard University and began working on his campaign for state delegate, eager to start his political career. He said when he first joined the legislature, he was always the youngest person in a room. Now, Vogel said he can help spark the change that has been lacking in an aging Congress. 

“I don’t think it’s going to be me alone, right,” Vogel said. “And I think something that I’ve been so inspired by on this campaign is the number of young people who have stepped up and helped power our campaign.”

If elected, Vogel would be the second Gen Z member of Congress after Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) was elected last year. He said young people should have a “seat at the table” in making decisions that could impact them for the rest of their lives. 

“It’s not just about bringing a Gen Z perspective,” Vogel said. “There is an entire generational perspective that’s missing right now in Congress as these life changing decisions are being made.” 

Vogel said he believes service is “instilled” within GW’s values, which were further cemented in classes that helped him realize his drive to serve. He added that the best education he received was not from GW or Harvard but from his experience in the legislature where he got hands-on involvement in Maryland communities. 

“The experience that I’ve had getting involved in community service in the community, right, with people in the community, that has really been the best education that I’ve had,” Vogel said. 

Vogel said he has always felt the need to help his community, recalling his time at GW as a senator in the Student Association.  

“I really joined student government when I was here because that same idea of service and wanting to give back,” Vogel said.

In January 2018, 22 of the SA’s 29 senators voted to remove Vogel from the senate for missing committee meetings. But he said he believed the impeachment was related to his leadership in the GW Together movement, which rallied against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, an initiative to end international support of Israel.

“It’s something that I think has in some ways been seared in my memory, right,” Vogel said. “But I try to think fondly about the impact that I was able to make.”

One moment Vogel recalls he was proud of during his time in the SA was organizing with other SA members to raise money to support Houston-area students and their families who were affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

“I’ve always been someone that’s really cared about making an impact, in part by electing leaders who share my values,” Vogel said. “That’s what I did for most of my time here at GW, and I think that also laid the foundation for the work that I’ve been able to do since.”

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About the Contributors
Cade McAllister, Events Editor
Cade McAllister is a sophomore double majoring in international affairs and political science from San Diego, California.  He is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 events editor.
Fiona Bork, Assistant News Editor
Fiona Bork is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication from San Diego, California. She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Student Life beat.
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