Nineteen-year-old gets seat on town board

Leslie Silverman

What does it take to become Keystone’s youngest town trustee?


“Don’t let anyone ever say you can’t do something,” said Casey McNulty, who at age 19 is poised to be the youngest trustee on the town’s board.


McNulty ran unopposed for one of two seats on the town board. No stranger to meetings, McNulty has been attending them since the age of 9.


“I think the first time I went to a meeting I was 9,” he said. “I went to a Holy Terror meeting. I helped with the very first Haunting in 2009.”


McNulty accompanied town resident Karen Boland to that meeting. He knew Boland from his first business, which he also began at age 9.


“I used to mow laws,” McNulty said. “I mowed lawns starting at about 8 years old. I would mow anyone’s lawn for $5, no matter what size it was. Oh boy, do I regret that.”


McNulty learned from both endeavors and is now a successful Keystone entrepreneur and soon to be town trustee.


“That’s when I met (Boland),” McNulty said. “I would weed eat the front of her shop and help her clean and organize. I would work for dinner at (Boland’s).”


McNulty began that first business to acquire money for a .22 rifle.


“My dad said anything that I wanted I had to make money,” he said.


McNulty worked long hours daily. And it paid off.


“I started with a push mower and this old, old, beat-up riding lawn mower and then the next year I made enough money out of those $5 lawns,” McNulty said. “I bought a brand new Cub Cadet riding lawn mower the next year.”


Those roots created the seeds for present day McNulty, who works full- time managing two hotels in town in addition to owning Presidential Perks, the Rushmore shuttle and renting out.


“Every single thing I’ve done has been successful because I learn something from it,” McNulty said. “The shuttle was a challenging one.”


McNulty did a market analysis of the transportations deficiencies in Keystone in 2018 and bought a bus at the end of the season.


“At first we were going to do the in town loop,” he said. “After about three weeks of that, we learned Keystone was just too walkable. I had this investment in the bus and I had to come up with  a new way to get my return on my investment. So we decided to do the Mount Rushmore runs.”


Those additional run, however, still did not produce enough revenue. Rather than giving up, McNulty thought outside the box.


“We added the Iron Mountain mini tour,” McNulty said. “We did two tours a day. They were two hours long. Those were a huge success.”

McNulty plans to add a Needles Highway loop for the current tourist season. 


McNulty is inspired by his parents.


“They would always tell us to go after what we want,” he said.


He also credits a few teachers, although he wasn’t always the best student in school.


“I had the idea in my head that I didn’t need high school,” he said. ”Stress drives me. When somebody pushes at me it just makes me push back 10 times harder. I don’t like the word ‘no.’ I don’t like the word ‘never.’ You just have to find a way to make it possible.”


Being a trustee will be McNulty’s priority. He feels the town board has “lost sight” of what Keystone is.


“There have been some things that have happened in the last few years in Keystone,” McNulty said. “We do need to go back to our roots and we need to go forward. I haven’t seen that in the last few boards. I felt that I could be a progressive person on the board. I feel that I can be on both sides.”


McNulty has lived in Keystone his whole life.


“I know what it means to be a Keystone local,” McNulty said. “What I think Keystone local means is friendly, know everybody, help where it’s needed even if you get nothing in return, community minded and small town America.”


Aside from being local, McNulty feels his business expertise puts him in a unique position of knowing how to meet the needs of business owners.


“What I don’t know I want to learn,” he said. “I think there’s room for improvement in some places.”


McNulty feels strongly that the much debated bed, booze and board tax money should be reinvested back into attracting more tourists to town, increasing tax revenue. 


McNulty sees his role as a trustee as one of a volunteer. 


“I know sitting on the board you receive a small paycheck, I plan on giving that back into the community,” he said. “It’s very important that we reinvest, and I think all town trustees should reinvest back into the community. Without volunteers we don’t have the fun events.


Communities need volunteers. Without volunteers there’s no way communities can function.”


And to young people his age or younger, McNulty offers a bit of inspiration.


“Don’t lose sight of dreams,” he said. “They can always become reality.  You just have to work at it. And it might not be the exact dream that you had. But you can make parts of that dream come true."

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