Somerville Native Thomas Vasconcelos, a Republican, Runs for State Rep
The 25-year-old is running for the East Somerville and East Cambridge seat occupied by Timothy Toomey.
Thomas Vasconcelos, 25, said that although he's always been interested in politics, "I've never had any desire to be a politician."
Despite that, the Somerville native has decided to run for state representative, and this fall he'll challenge incumbent state Rep. Timothy Toomey, who has represented since 1993 the 26th Middlesex, a district that encompasses East Cambridge and East Somerville.
Vasconcelos will also be running against independent candidate Mike Connolly, from Cambridge, who is running a "no money" campaign.
Vasconcelos, who grew up in Somerville—attending the Lincoln Park Community School (now the Argenziano School) and graduating from Somerville High School in 2005, he said—decided to run because "over the past couple of years I've been a little bit disturbed" by the state of politics in the country. "I'm sick and tired of what I've seen," he said.
"I'm sick of all these back room deals and the lack of transparency," he said, adding later, "We have too many incompetent people running things."
Running as a Republican
Vasconcelos has been a registered Republican since the age of 18, he said, and he describes himself "libertarian leaning."
"I think government is getting bigger and bigger," he said, and he thinks its bad for the country.
The district in which he's running, which includes parts of Cambridge and Somerville, is not an easy place to run if you're a Republican, and Vasconcelos said when he knocks on doors people ask about his party affiliation.
"My allegiance is to no party; it's really to the people, and that's why I'm running. I happen to be a Republican," he said.
He said, "There are many in the Republican Party I'm not too happy with. In fact, the majority of them," and he added, "I'm trying to reform the Republican Party as well.
"We need to do a better job of appealing to demographics we're not successful with," the Somerville candidate said. Those demographics include younger people and those concerned with environmental issues, he said.
On the campaign trail, people also ask him about social issues, and he explained, "I'm actually very conservative on social issues, but I'm not in favor of legislating morality."
After graduating from Somerville High School, Vasconcelos attended Bentley University in Waltham, where he studied finance and philosophy.
After graduating, he spent time working at the Bank of New York Mellon in Everett, and he's also interned at John Hancock Financial Services and KPMG, he said. He currently works at Education First, in Cambridge, as a temporary financial analyst.
Vasconcelos' father comes from Portugal, he said, and the candidate speaks fluent Portuguese and some Spanish. He plans to reach out to that community, saying, "I'm definitely targeting the Latin vote."
Vasconcelos seems interested, in many ways, in national issues, such as decreasing the size of government. He thinks the country is in store for another economic downturn, and "if we have more people with my philosophy, we can create some kind of cushion" for when that happens, he said.
At the state level, he wants to "look at the budget and see where government has gone out of bounds."
Locally, he supports the Green Line extension, he said. "When it comes to public transportation, that's something I'm very much in favor of." He didn't go into details about how to pay for the project, which would require state and federal funding, and how paying for the project meshes with his desire for smaller government.
He said he has to do more research on the McGrath Highway issue. Many people in Somerville want the state to tear down the East Somerville elevated roadway instead of investing money in fixing it.
On the Cambridge side, he talked about plans by Google to expand in Cambridge. "If Google wants to buy land that's private land … I don't think the government should get involved. It seems socialistic to me," he said.
Vasconcelos said the environment is an issues he's concerned about, especially in regard to genetically modified foods.
"We should have mandatory labeling if a product is genetically modified," he said, adding, "I would be more than happy to lead the way."