For the last three weeks this column has featured the three Democratic candidates for the 8th Suffolk District state representative seat Marty Walz left in January. There have been new developments.
One candidate, Nils Tracy, dropped out. And the elusive reported Republican candidate found me. So I can introduce you to him too.
Victor is an artist with a special interest in ceramics and a musician, writing songs and playing just about any instrument you can name. He also has interests in sustainable and local farming, fitness and accounting. His day job is with NRT, owner of the real estate brokerage franchises Coldwell-Banker and ERA. He works as an operations specialist in the insurance division.
Victor was born in Lima, Peru. His father, a well-educated man himself, moved the family to the States, first to Waltham and then to Andover because of its good school system. But Victor spent much time going back and forth between Lima and Andover. He became a U.S. citizen in 1990. He graduated from UMass Amherst with $20,000 in student loans, a situation he could not bear. To make his financial situation even more dire, he was laid off from his first job as a sound engineer in Woodstock, New York.
Victor’s aversion to debt propelled him to the Republican party, which he admired because of its emphasis on financial success and independence. After moving to Boston in 2002, Victor said he lived in a studio with no windows and worked hard, sometimes at multiple jobs—waiting tables, playing shows, selling instruments on eBay, as well as working full time on computers at a small company and was soon debt-free.
“I wanted to be be my own person, on my own path, with my own identity,” he said. The Republican emphasis on individual liberty and self-reliance appealed to him. He remembered his grandparents Lima home with a dirt floor and no electricity and realized it was up to him to make sure he didn’t have to live that way.
But neither did he want a dependent, ham-strung nation. “I don’t want to live in a debt-based society,” he said.
His hard-working, determined father, he said, has been the biggest influence on his life. He’d like to help recent college graduates, especially those with student loans, manage their financial lives better.
He preaches a life of discipline, delayed gratification and common sense. “Find an affordable house,” he advises. “Create a budget for yourself, get very detailed and see how much you spend. Sometimes you have to work. You can’t go out every night.”
He said he knows someone who is 37 years old and still paying off his student loans, and he frowns on that behavior. “If you defer payments it will get worse,” he says.
In the legislature he wants to bring his smart financial skills to policy matters. He takes him an hour to get to work on the T, and he says he would be a strong advocate for an expanded and more reliable MBTA. “I want to be a voice for the commuter on Beacon Hill,” he says.
But he would not want to raise taxes or fares to pay for it. He would prefer to go over the T’s budget line by line to eliminate waste and find savings.
He also wants to institute partnerships. For example, he points out that MIT students have a lot to offer the T if their ideas could be tapped easily. He’d want to build the economy, improve public safety, support small business and create a volunteer program to help children learn to farm and to help people get out of debt. He understands the need for a public school in the Boston section of the district. He said he loves living in Cambridgeport with its convenience and closeness to the river. He wants better parks, and a better quality of life for everyone in the district. He does not want to burden people with higher taxes.
His friends give him trouble because he is a Republican. Even his girlfriend is a hard-core liberal, he says.
But he wants to show the world that the Republican party can be more than anti-immigrant, discriminatory and divisive. Instead, he said, despite his frustrations with some voices in the party, he wants to show there are Republicans in Cambridge and that there can be diversity of ideas in the party. He has created a Facebook page and a web site, Victor4MA.com.
“Right now is a great time to enter politics,” he said, “to build a new Republican party.”
Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com.