EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 31, 2013

Column: A ‘brush fire of liberty’ must light up Beacon Hill

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — You who are old, and have fought the fight,

And have won or lost or left the fight,

Weight us not down with fears of the world,

As we run!

Cale Young Rice

I memorized this quote a long time ago, seems to me it was when I was young, about to become a taxpayer activist. Or maybe it was when I started to become cynical about politics, and reminding myself not to pass that on to younger activists. It came to mind on Friday evening.

I was at a “Special Election Countdown to Victory Reception” in Peabody for Leah Cole, a young woman who is running for state representative in Tuesday’s election, in the 12th Essex District recently represented by Joyce Spiliotis.

Citizens for Limited Taxation’s Proposition 2½ PAC has endorsed Leah Cole as the best choice for taxpayers, but I wouldn’t usually get personally involved in a legislative district other than my own. However, I don’t like the way she’s been dismissed as if she’s a freckle on the nose of the political complexion.

It’s been noted that there is much excitement about “a competitive race in Peabody Wards 1-4 and part of Ward 5” between a Democratic school committeewoman and a city councilor who is running as an independent but has pledged to caucus with the Democrats on Beacon Hill.

Just what we need, more Democrats on Beacon Hill. I thought Democrats were into “a balanced approach” and “fairness”, not to mention more women in elected office. The candidacy of one young woman is dismissed, as nearly as I can tell, only because she is young, and a Republican. This made me angry, so let me dismiss both those excuses for not supporting her.

Young. Yes, Leah Cole is 24 years old. Some of the people crowded into her reception Friday evening were younger than that. Many 20-somethings, like Salem’s Sean O’Brien, had become involved with the recent congressional campaign of Richard Tisei – who had just graduated from college when he won his first campaign for legislator, representing Wakefield.

I ran into old friends from that town whose young son, Evan Kenney, is running for school committee in Wakefield this year. He’s been encouraged by Republican activist Brad Wyatt, who, inspired by Ron Paul, has been working on getting “Liberty Kids” to run for local office. He was at the Cole event all the way from Worcester, where he is encouraging another young woman to run for the seat precariously held by John Fresolo (D-Worcester, 49 years old), who is currently the object of an internal House ethics investigation.

One of the taxpayers’ best allies on Beacon Hill was Peter Forman, R-Plymouth, who also ran immediately after graduating from college, later became House minority leader. Back to our local area, remember Peter Torkildsen? He was 26 in 1984 when he ran for state rep in the 13th Essex District (parts of Danvers and Peabody), beat the powerful House Majority Leader Jack Murphy, later became our congressman.

Sen. Bruce Tarr was at the Cole event; he still doesn’t look much older than when he first ran, at 26.

So Leah Cole’s youth should not be a liability. We might not want all 160 House members to be young, but one or two — well, let’s celebrate diversity! You may also be a Democrat who doesn’t want a Republican majority, but any politically aware observer should recognize that more balance in the Legislature would be a good thing for the commonwealth.

There is a new brand of Republican making its move across the nation, focused like Peabody’s young nurse on fiscal responsibility, creating jobs, bringing transparency, accountability and a fresh voice to the halls of state legislatures.

My partner, Chip Ford, was a New Hampshire driver for Ron Paul when he first ran for president as a Libertarian, and is still on his contact list. Last month he received a letter from Congressman Paul that began: “Brush fires of liberty are springing up all across the country. And one of those brush fires is burning right now in Massachusetts ... you can be sure Leah will lead the fight to defeat the Boston establishment’s tax hikes, massive spending increases, and assaults on liberty.” Dr. Paul endorsed her and urged his friends in Massachusetts to support her campaign.

This is probably where some of the “out-of-district money” that has helped fuel her campaign came from; I just gave her $50 myself, to help create a level playing field with the two better-known politicians in the Peabody wards.

This part of the state voted for Republicans Tisei and Charlie Baker, who enthusiastically introduced Leah at the function I attended; he also noted the value of encouraging young people to run, and urged those in attendance to each get 10 people to the polls on April 2.

Many Republicans didn’t turn out for the special-election Republican primary between Cole and Greg Bunn, maybe because they had no preference between two good candidates. I hope they turn out in force on Tuesday – along with independents and Democrats who believe in a two-party system — to vote for Leah Cole, and prove that anyone who rudely dismissed her was wrong.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages.