Every so often I like to sit back and observe local elected officials. I often rate them for their real leadership ability, political courage (if any) and potential for higher office. I’ve come to the realization that we have some real political stars in our midst. Some of these people go unnoticed, or perhaps they aren’t necessarily known throughout the entire Merrimack Valley. So as a result, I decided that this month’s submission to The Valley Patriot would highlight some of the All Stars I see. I’ll share my thoughts on who I perceive as a leader, the offices they currently hold and the future offices I think they should seek. Oh and make no mistake, this isn’t an exercise to benefit them… it’s an exercise to benefit us, their constituents.
Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliott – I’ve written about Mayor Elliott before and if anything, he’s confirmed my initial instincts on him. He’s continued after more than a year in office to lead and represent the City of Lowell in the finest way possible. He’s proven to be an effective communicator, has unmatched political courage and has been fearless in tackling the tough issues facing Lowell. So what office should he seek? US Congress. He’s a Blue Dog Democrat and an established fiscal watchdog. He could easily challenge Congresswoman Tsongas, and might possibly win. Would he do it? Probably not, but keep an eye on Rodney for future Congressional races or maybe even State Senate.
State Rep. Diana DiZoglio – Let’s face it, she knocked off an established incumbent in her first race and dismantled the local political establishment that sought to knock her off in her second race. She’s hasn’t been afraid to take stands or challenge party leadership at the statehouse. Watching her in political mode is what it must have been like to watch Babe Ruth at the beginning of his career. She’s showing incredible talent and has the poise of a political veteran. At a young political age, she leads and it seems that people gravitate to her. She listens and actually seems to absorb what she hears… there’s no empty stare when she engages in a conversation. She’s real. What office should she seek next? Diana if you’re reading this… shoot for Congress. Bypass State Senate, or even Mayor of Methuen. Go fix Washington. The people of the Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District could use your help, and so could the country.
Greater Lowell Technical HS School Committeeman Joe Espinola – Joe Espinola is another real person. He is a former law enforcement officer, former Lawrence DPW worker and someone who’s carved out a living in the trades. Joe knocked out another candidate in Dracut who seemed invincible at the time. How did he do it? Hard work. You can work as hard as Joe, but never harder. Joe is at every political or charity event throughout the Greater Lowell area. Most importantly, he’s engaged in the business of who he serves. When you ask Joe who he serves? The kids he says. A Democrat and a commonsense moderate. Imperfect and he’s the first one to admit it. However he’s credible. Joe should challenge for State Senate. It’s always easier to knock out a first term State Senator than one who’s been there a while. Go for it Joe… state government could use your passion and energy.
State Rep. David Nangle – A quiet, but incredibly effective State Representative. Dave is a lifelong Democrat that has bucked the Democratic establishment on numerous occasions. He supported and endorsed former Sen. Scott Brown and Governor Charlie Baker. Nangle has demonstrated political courage by supporting the best person he feels for the job, despite their political affiliation. On many occasions he’s been publically called out by Democratic Party hacks. They tried to embarrass Dave for doing what he feels is right. Rep. Dave Nangle has shrugged it all off and spit in the eye of those who have tried to tarnish his political reputation. He speaks softly and carries a big stick. Run for State Senate, Middlesex County Sheriff, or better yet, Middlesex North Registrar of Deeds…now there’s an office that could use a shakeup.
State Rep. Tom Golden – Unlike Dave Nangle, Tom is a party loyalist. As much as it works for Dave Nangle to buck his own party, it’s worked for Tom not to. Tom is a very effective behind the scenes legislator that will go to bat for any one of his constituents. He’s most effective when it’s time to bring people together. He unites people with strong differing opinions. His abilities might go un-noticed outside his district, but he’s a political fireman. A State Rep for twenty years and still young enough to have an impact for another twenty. Tom should run for State Senate or quit politics and be Lowell’s next City Manager. Perhaps even a future Lt. Governor…just give Baker eight years before you do it.
… Now for the speed round!
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera – Run for State Senate, Congress or even Lt. Gov…someday…way, way off in the future. I love Karyn Polito.
State Rep. Jim Lyons – Can you say future Republican Candidate for US Senate?
Lawrence City Councilor Marc LaPlante – MA GOP Chairman…they really could use some leadership, a ground game…and a clue.
The key to any of the people I just suggested run for higher office…is that we hold them accountable. It’s important that we watch them and actually support them when we see them lead. It’s important that we encourage leaders who meet the rigors of political office, unabashed and head on, and that we recognize when they are actually serving our best interest and not their own. Believe me, in a world of self-absorbed, narcissistic public officials, it’s to our own benefit that we encourage those politicians who are different. You see it’s in our own best interest, more than in their own that they run for higher office. Check them out, challenge them once in a while…and say thanks.
EDITORS NOTE: State Senator Eileen Donoghue was initially named on this list but was removed after she did a cowardly retreat from her criticism of Deval Patrick after getting pressure from her party.