‘No one is underqualified’: first-year jumps head-on into local politics

Angus Abercrombie, a freshman and political communications major, is running to represent District 8 in Belmont, MA at its biannual town meeting. He announced his first political campaign via Twitter in August.

In Belmont, a Boston suburb of about 26,000 residents, each district must vote for 12 candidates from 36 representatives who are elected annually for three-year terms. The government determines how the city is run and how its budget is allocated.

Since announcing his candidacy, Abercrombie has received mixed reactions from fellow politicians regarding his youth.

“I’ve had people comment when I agree with them that it’s great that I’m young and involved in politics, and I’ve had people comment when I disagree with them that I’m naive,” he said. “You get both.”

At first, Abercrombie had no intention of running for office. His interests centered on conservation activism stemming from his part-time job at Mass Audubon.

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“I realized [activism] was so much more difficult and complicated than it needs to be,” Abercrombie said. “That’s basically the beginning of everything I think about now when it comes to politics.”

Inspired by politicians like Senator Bernie SandersLieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania John Fettermanand Luke Kunz— a Democrat who recently ran for the Senate — Abercrombie eventually chose to pursue politics over activism.

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“[These politicians] are people who are focused on getting things done for working people in their states,” Abercrombie said.

However, Abercrombie credited his biggest inspiration as “the people who aren’t that good – the people I wouldn’t mind watching the back of.”

Although politics was not Abercombie’s lifelong goal, he found it easier than expected to get involved.

“The biggest misconception people have about local government is that they are underqualified,” he said. “No one is underqualified to run.”

Abercrombie sees inexperience as a starting point, not a limitation, and believes that’s a reason to get involved. He quickly dove into his local government, eventually connecting with his state senator and representatives.

“I was completely out of state politics in January of this year,” Abercrombie said. “Now I’m an associate member of the Belmont Democratic Town Committee. It is very easy to go a long way; You just have to take the first step.”

That Belmont Democratic City Committee describes itself as Belmont’s “local, grassroots branch of the Democratic Party,” which says it champions the party’s ideals website. As an associate, Abercrombie attended meetings where he met Democratic candidates running for positions in state government.

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On September 22nd, Abercrombie will return to Belmont in hopes of being appointed a full voting member of the city committee. In this role, Abercrombie will vote on budget items and city endorsements.

Linda Levin Scherz, a committee chair, said she is “thrilled” that Abercrombie is running to represent his district at the Belmont City Assembly.

“Angus came on as a high school student and all of us on the committee were impressed by his deep knowledge of candidates and issues and his desire to work towards goals,” said Scherz. “Everyone loves him.”

Like Abercrombie, Scherz emphasized that meaning of local government, especially as she has seen local elections across the country come under attack by those who want to impose restrictions and bans.

“If people think local elections don’t matter, they’re wrong,” she said.

Though he won’t be living in Belmont during the college year, Abercrombie plans to maintain his connection to the community in which he grew up.

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“Belmont will always be at home,” he said. “I can always walk from the Little Building to Park Street Station, hop on the Red Line, grab a Bluebike, and ride home.”

Although Abercrombie is excited to attend Emerson and has an interest in student administration, he has no intention of joining, mainly to avoid becoming too involved.

Abercrombie is currently planning how many flyers to print and who to hire for its campaign staff.

He plans to focus his campaign on the Belmont community.

“I will knock on every door in my district and speak to every constituent I can reach,” he said. “Most of them will not vote in April and some of them will not vote for me. But if they live in my county in Belmont, then they’re the people I want to represent. And I want to hear from them.”

District 8 voting takes place in the gym at Winn Brook School in Belmont. Although the date will not be officially set until the municipal election resolution is notarized, the election is expected to take place on April 4, 2023.

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