Andrew Cassilly described experiencing a range of emotions Monday night, from excitement to slight nervousness, hours after Gov. Larry Hogan’s office announced Cassilly had been appointed as the new senior advisor to the governor.
“I’m more honored than anything else, to have the opportunity to do it,” Cassilly, who currently represents northern Harford and western Cecil County in the Maryland House of Delegates, said of his new position.
“Andrew Cassilly has an exceptional record of service to the State of Maryland, from his tenure in the Maryland National Guard to his years of leadership in Maryland public schools and the House of Delegates,” Hogan said in a prepared statement, announcing the appointment.
“His strong judgement and wealth of expertise on education, environmental, and transportation issues will be invaluable to our team, especially during the upcoming legislative session.”
Cassilly, 53, of Level, is a Republican who represents Legislative Subdistrict 35B with fellow Republican Del. Teresa Reilly; Del. Kevin Hornberger, of Cecil County, is a Republican who represents Subdistrict 35A. State Sen. Jason Gallion, also a Republican and a Harford County resident, represents all of District 35 in the Maryland Senate.
Cassilly was elected to his delegate’s seat in 2014 and re-elected in 2018; he is the brother of Republican state Sen. Robert Cassilly, who represents central and southern Harford County in District 34, and former Harford State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, who did not seek re-election last year after serving more than 30 years as the county’s top prosecutor.
It was a difficult decision to leave the General Assembly, Cassilly said in a statement, “but I could not pass up the opportunity to help advance the governor’s bold agenda for Maryland.
"I want to thank the governor for this exciting opportunity, and I look forward to joining his team as we prepare for the legislative session."
Cassilly serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and he has sat on many other committees and groups in Annapolis and Harford County, such as the Environment and Transportation Committee, Regional Revitalization Workgroup, the Veterans and Waterman Caucus and the Harford County Economic Advisory Board.
He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Millersville University and a master’s degree in administrative management from Loyola College.
The governor’s senior advisor is a full-time position, so he will have to step down from the House, and he also will have to resign from Harford County Public Schools, where he has worked for 28 years. Cassilly said leaving the school system is the only sad part of his new role.
“Really believing in the mission [of the schools] and having to leave is a bittersweet moment for me,” he said.
Cassilly has held multiple roles in HCPS during his career, including working as a coach, teacher, school administrator and central office official in the areas of student services and operations, to his current position, assistant supervisor for innovative partnerships.
He has been in that role for about eight months, overseeing the implementation of the North Star program. The program involves a partnership between the public schools and Harford Community College, through which the two institutions work together to identify each HCPS student’s strengths and ensure they graduate high school prepared to enter college or a university, or holding a license for a particular trade.
Superintendent Sean Bulson, who is in his second year leading HCPS, said last fall that one of his key goals was to ensure students graduate prepared for either college or to enter the workforce. Cassilly said Bulson asked him to take on the North Star program, and he has spent the past months guiding and organizing it.
“It’s starting to gain momentum,” Cassilly said of North Star. “It’s an exciting time for the school system.”
Cassilly said he is “incredibly honored” to work for the governor, and he thinks his prior experience working in education could benefit the governor, as the recommendations issued by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — commonly known as the Kirwan Commission — for improving public education in Maryland are expected to consume a large part of the General Assembly’s 2020 session.
“I can certainly weigh in on the impact of the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations and how we might best be able to meet those goals," Cassilly said.
Search for a new delegate
A new delegate for District 35B must be selected before the legislative session begins Jan. 8.
“The biggest challenge is going to be to find somebody who can fill Delegate Cassilly’s shoes,” Mike Griffith, chairman of the Republican Central Committee of Harford County, said Monday evening.
The committee will put out a call for nominees, then interview candidates and make selections to send to the governor’s office for approval. The Cecil County Republican Central Committee members will do the same, and then come together with their Harford counterparts to select a final nominee, according to Griffith.