The Better Part of Valor

10Jun10

At least two candidates for State Representative are happy that they kept a safe distance away from any and all podiums on Memorial Day in Wakefield. Two others are probably now wishing they had.
Monica Medeiros
At the time, getting up and speaking at an event that was likely to draw town officials and the media probably seemed like a politically sound idea to Melrose Alderman/State Rep. candidate Monica Medeiros and her competitor from Wakefield for the seat, Eric Estevez.

Sen. Richard TiseiRepublicans Medeiros and Estevez, along with David Lucas, are running for Katherine Clark’s 32nd Middlesex District seat, while Clark runs for the senate seat of Richard Tisei, who is running for Lt. Governor. The winner of the Sept. 14 Republican Primary will face the only Democrat in the race for Clark’s seat, Melrose Alderman Paul Brodeur.

A Veteran Salutes the American FlagIn light of public reaction, Estevez and Medeiros may now be re-thinking their roles in what was viewed by many as a rather unseemly politicizing of what should be a solemn holiday. Both Estevez and Medeiros are young, and perhaps didn’t foresee a potential downside to speaking. But those whose memories of Wakefield Memorial Day observances extend back over several decades cannot recall a single occasion in the past when a candidate for public office has taken to the podium who was not already a town official.

It’s hard to know exactly how the two candidates wound up speaking on Memorial Day. It seems doubtful that the sponsors of the observances extended the invitations on their own. It’s easier to imagine young, ambitious politicians seeking out the limelight. But even if they were invited to speak, it was their choice to accept or decline.

Both Estevez and Medeiros boast educational backgrounds in political science, but sometimes there’s no substitute for experience. Maybe they would have been better off doing what Rep. Mark Falzone’s challengers Anthony Guardia and Donald Wong did – show up, shake hands and be seen at the Memorial Day observances.

At least Medeiros exhibited the discretion to keep her remarks at the West Side Social Club relatively brief. Estevez, on the other hand, spoke longer at than most of the afternoon speakers, including the current state reps Clark and Falzone and keynote speaker Bill Walsh.

PodiumPodiums seem to draw Estevez like flowers attract bees. He recently had to apologize for a photo that was submitted to local newspapers and posted on his Facebook page. The photo of Estevez standing behind a podium purported to show him addressing a May 20 rally for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor candidate Tisei. Estevez was later forced to admit that he did not actually speak at the rally, blaming an intern for the photo mix-up.

It hasn’t been an easy week for Estevez. Other “inconsistencies” in his campaign have surfaced, including his somewhat expansive definition of the word “professor” to include his former position as a part-time political science lecturer at Northeastern University. (He was introduced at the Memorial Day exercises on the Common as “Professor Eric Estevez.”)

On its own, a candidate speaking at Memorial Day isn’t a big deal, and Medeiros is an elected official after all, just not one representing Wakefield (yet).

But the last thing that Estevez needed right about now was to attract any more unflattering attention. There are still three months between now and the September primary. Summer, a time when people of the district are more focused on vacation than voting, may not be the easiest time to rebuild a campaign image.

Then again, a little summer amnesia could go along way toward making May’s missteps fall’s faded memories.

[This column originally appeared in the June 10, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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