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Meeting a Candidate; Remembering a Concordian

Residents host Tom Conroy; Documentary to feature Fred Fay

Sunday evening I had the pleasure of meeting State Representative Tom Conroy, a Democrat from Wayland who represents Lincoln and Sudbury as well as his hometown.

Tom was the special guest of Linda Ziffrin and Fred Abbott, who hosted a reception to support his campaign for the U.S Senate seat currently held by Republican Scott Brown. The Ziff-Bott’s son BZ Abbott has been working and walking alongside the state rep. since July, when Conroy stepped out his front door and embarked on a 657-mile trek around the state.

The walk through 125 Massachusetts cities and towns began July 2 and ended Sept. 3. Conroy, BZ and the rest of the crew averaged 15 to 20 miles a day and heard the personal stories and concerns of the people they met along the way.  

“I saw a lot of desperation out there,” Conroy told the crowd of about 25 gathered in the Ziffrin-Abbott family room.

He met people who had lost jobs, were struggling to afford health care and daily living expenses and were concerned about the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and other foreign policy issues. He also witnessed crumbling infrastructure including broken bridges, rundown schools, and even a fire house that was last wired by Thomas Edison.

The representative grew up the third of five boys in a working-class neighborhood of New York City. His father was a veteran of Vietnam. Both parents, he said, instilled in their boys good values and the drive to help those not in a position to help themselves.

He received a BA in Russian and Eastern European studies from Yale College, and spent the subsequent years in Washington working with, among others, Sen. Gary Hart, (D-CO) and Sen. Barbara Milkulski (D-MD). He traveled to Thailand where he managed resettlement programs for Asian refugees. That experience helped him later with the Clinton Administration's efforts to prevent migrant Haitians from risking their lives to reach freedom.

Conroy spent the next several years in the private sector while pursuing degrees in international economics and finance. He told the gathering Sunday that he helped large and small organizations maximize growth strategies while improving effectiveness of their operations. He is confident his mix of public and private work will serve his constituents well. He has represented the 13th district since 2007 and is Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. He does not accept money from lobbyists or other special interest groups.

“The biggest challenge I have is that not a lot of people know me,” he said.

Besides the incumbent and Rep. Conroy, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who has strong name recognition, is seeking the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Conroy said he is not intimidated by the bigger names that may appear with his on the ballot.

Also running are  Democrats Setti Warren, the Mayor of Newton, Marisa DeFranco, an immigration lawyer, Alan Khazei, founder of City Year organization, James Coyne King, a lawyer and Herb Robinson, an engineer.

BZ is confident he is backing a winner.

“I am with Tom every step of the way,” said BZ, a  newly minted graduate with a political science degree from Wheaton College. BZ also interned for a semester with the Scottish Parliament. “It’s been a lot of fun working with him. I like Tom a lot and I think he’s the best candidate out there. ”

Documentary of Fred Fay to air

In August, Concord grieved the loss of Fred Fay, a renowned resident who advocated tirelessly for others despite his physical limitations. After his death, Patch writer on Fred’s successful efforts lobbying for the physically disabled. Fred lived his final years with dear friend Trish Irons, owner of .

Much has been said and written about Fred’s life and now a documentary will be aired about his struggles, which were heavily overshadowed by his successes. Beginning tomorrow night, Oct. 27, you may watch the program, Lives Worth Living, which highlights Fred’s ability to launch a national disability rights movement despite a debilitating spinal cord injury. The program is directed by Ed Neudel.

“It is fabulous, absolutely fabulous,” said Janet, who had the distinct pleasure of knowing Fred for many years. There will be many showings over the next few days on public television. It is not prime time, but perhaps you can record a show to watch at a convenient time for you.

The program airs the following times on WGBH 44:
Thursday, Oct. 27 at 10:30 p.m.,
Friday, Oct. 28 at 2 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 a.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 9 a.m.

Lives Worth Living will also air on NHPTV Prime the following times:
Friday, Oct. 28 at 11 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29 at 4 a.m.
Sunday,  Oct. 30 at 11 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 31 at 4 a.m.

It will also air on NHPTV EXPLORE
Saturday, Oct. 29 at 10 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2:30 a.m.


Do you have something you would like to share? Contact me at mcb23@comcast.net or Stefanie Cloutier at stefanieac@comcast.net and we will be happy to help you spread the word.

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