By Courtney Llewellyn
(left to right) LDTC Member Achievement Award winner Eric Lesser, Congressman Richard Neal, State. Rep. Brian Ashe and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and one of his daughters. For more photos see the gallery below. |
Reminder Publications photo by Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW It was a veritable "Who's who" of the Democratic Party at the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee (LDTC) 2009 Democrat of the Year Award Presentation Breakfast on March 29.
On hand to honor this year's award recipients were Congressman Richard Neal, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, State Reps. Angelo Puppolo and Rosemary Sandlin, State Sen. Gale Candaras, Sheriff Michael Ashe and Registrar of Deeds Donald Ashe, along with various Select Board, School Committee and Planning Board members from town.
New State Rep. Brian Ashe was honored as the 2009 Democrat of the Year.
"It was incredible being named Democrat of the Year," Ashe said, "especially after winning the [state representative] election " and now this? It s great.
Ashe is the first Democrat to represent the 2nd Hampden District in more than 35 years.
"Brian was our first choice for Democrat of the Year, but there was a fleeting moment when I thought about that Time Magazine cover with the mirror on it -- I thought about honoring all of you because you ve worked so hard this year," LDTC Chair Candy Glazer told those in attendance.
Eric Lesser, a 2003 graduate of Longmeadow High School, was given the LDTC Member Achievement Award. Lesser is currently serving as Special Assistant to the Senior Advisor to the President in the White House.
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Lesser said he had "always been interested [in government] at the local level and helping in the community." He said he got his start in politics in the LDTC, working on gaining funding for the schools when there were budget cuts.
"I learned about politics firsthand," he stated.
Lesser thanked all those that helped him get to where he is today at the breakfast; he had said beforehand that he was looking forward to going home and seeing his family.
Ashe and Lesser were both congratulated in letters from Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
LDTC member Cal Conniff was also awarded at the breakfast with the 2009 Chair's Award for his many years of outstanding dedication to the committee.
Conniff said he became an active Democrat more than 20 years ago because he was "disillusioned with some of the things [I] saw going on."
"I felt politicians weren't listening. I thought, 'I gotta get involved to make a change,'" Conniff said.
He stated that he has been a lifelong Democrat and that he served the LDTC as its treasurer for 12 years.
I m very touched and appreciative of this award, Conniff said. "I'm very honored I was chosen."
Lt. Gov. Murray, who served as the breakfast's keynote speaker, touched on such subjects as how important it is to have more people at the State House who have local experience, how active the LDTC is, transportation reform and healthcare reform.
"Keep the faith," he told attendees, "and keep working hard."
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Eric Lesser, a 2003 graduate of Longmeadow High School, said he had "always been interested [in government] at the local level and helping in the community." He said he got his start in politics in the LDTC, working on gaining funding for the schools when there were budget cuts while he was still in high school.
"I learned about politics firsthand," he stated.
An interview with Eric Lesser
Reminder Publications: Why did you become a Democrat?
Eric Lesser: The Democratic Party stands for a set of beliefs -- that we re all in this together. Democrats believe in giving people the tools to make the most of their situations -- the government is not there to solve all your problems. I believe in that.
RP: How did you become involved with Barack Obama s campaign?
EL: I was a member of the Harvard College Democrats, and I was working in college on a lot of local races, because it s important to be involved in the local community -- that s how you make the most direct and local impact. I volunteered in 2006 for the midterms in New Hampshire and for Gov. Deval Patrick s campaign in 2006. I saw Obama s speeches, I read his books, and I agreed with his message. Change comes from the bottom up, from the war to healthcare to education. He represents the greatest change. The first time I stepped foot into his campaign office [in New Hampshire], it wasn t an office -- it was a supporter s apartment.
RP: What was it like working as his ground logistics coordinator during the presidential campaign?
EL: We had a map that showed all the flights we took. You know those maps on the back of in-flight magazines that show all the routes an airline makes? That s what our map looked like. We traveled 200,000 miles in total, more than 400 flights, 48 states, six countries ... We were visiting three or four states a day. I really got a sense for the country, especially during the primaries, and I noticed that everyone wanted the same things.
RP: How did you get your position as Special Assistant to the Senior Advisor to the President?
EL: I traveled everywhere with Sen. Obama during his campaign, and I got to know him and his staff a bit, and I met David Axelrod [Senior Advisor to the President] through that. I started working in the Chicago transition office before moving to Washington in January. I was actually one of the first people to walk into the White House as an Obama employee.
RP: What was Inauguration Day like?
EL: I could not see the end of the crowd, and everyone was so happy, with huge smiles -- it was like a holiday.
RP: Is it tough being so young and holding the position you do?
EL: It s definitely an adjustment. People will treat you like a peer if you act like a peer. Right now, I m keeping my head down and working hard.