Cassilly to decide on status this week

Councilman mobilized for Iraq to tell panel if he'll step down


Robert G. Cassilly, an Army Reserve civil affairs officer who was mobilized for Iraq in February, said he will make an announcement this week about whether he will step down from the County Council or retain his position through the November election as he serves abroad.

Reached by cell phone in North Carolina, where he is finishing training before a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq, Cassilly said he would e-mail his plans to the council tomorrow evening.

While it has been widely expected that he would step down, Cassilly has remained mum on his plans. He told The Sun in February that he would wait until training had concluded to make a decision.

"There's always the possibility that you can get injured and you don't deploy," said Cassilly, a Republican who represents Bel Air. "Then I've given up my seat and I'm still here."

Should he step down, the Republican Central Committee would nominate three candidates to be voted on by the council. At least two Bel Air town commissioners are said to be interested in the position.

Cassilly indicated in February that he had not ruled out running for another term on the council. But it was during an interview with The Sun, as well as from a phone conversation with Del. Anthony G. Brown, an Iraq war veteran from Prince George's County, that Cassilly learned he could not run because of a Department of Defense directive.

Military rules allow candidates to run for office if they have filed before being mobilized, though a family member or friends must run the campaign and represent the candidate. Once mobilized, however, soldiers are prohibited from engaging in political activity, which includes filing to run for office.

A handful of elected officials nationwide have been deployed and affected by the directive, but Army officials did not know of any other official whose election hopes were dashed.

Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, a Democrat and member of Hawaii's House of Representatives, ended her re-election campaign in 2004 after learning that she would not be able to carry out her legislative duties during an 18-month assignment abroad. Brown, the gubernatorial running mate of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, was deployed amid his term and returned to his General Assembly seat afterward.

Cassilly has missed time on the council before because of reserve duties. He spent five weeks in Egypt last year for training. His brother, State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

While he considered his decision, Cassilly said he was confident the council would "be OK" in his absence.

"The big thing coming up is the budget process," he said in February. "I know where the county executive is going, and I share his priorities. He understands what's important for my district."

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