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Alumni Debate Running for Office at Rappaport Event

A January 2016 panel discussion brought five notable BC Law Alumni to campus to discuss their experiences in running for office. The key takeaway? It’s not an easy path for anyone, but the benefits of serving the public good are worth the fight.

The panel, sponsored by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School, included (in photo, from left to right) panelists Bryan Barash ’13, Newton Charter Commissioner; Matt McDonough ’02, Register of Probate for Plymouth County; John Connolly ’01, former Boston City Councilor and 2013 City of Boston mayoral candidate; Jamie Eldridge ’00, State Senator; and State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg ’85 as moderator.

“The panelists offered real insight into the nuts and bolts about running for office and the difficult realities that come along with being a public figure,” said Max Calderon ’16, who wrote about the event for the BC Law Impact student blog.

The effort it takes to get your name known to voters was a recurring theme at the panel. Going door-to-door and making appearances at local events were two of the most common and time-consuming tactics discussed. And the dedication to building a reputation can be hard on a candidate’s family. As Connolly said, “Make sure running for office is a family decision; everyone has to be on board.”

The panelists discussed the lack of diversity in public office, and urged more women and diverse candidates to run, so that the makeup of their local communities was better reflected. They also pointed out the differences between their campaign platforms and the issues that dominated their daily professional lives, once the campaign was over. “I campaigned on education but have spent most of my time working on energy and environmental issues,” McDonough said. “You don’t know what’ll come up once you’re in office.”

-Photo by Reba Saldanha


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