By Barbara Van Reed
James B. McGovern has been the U.S. Representative for the Massachusetts Third Congressional District for eight terms, most of them unopposed. This year, William Feegbeh is challenging Mr. McGovern in the September 6 Democratic primary to represent the Second Congressional District.
The two districts underwent dramatic changes in last year's mandated redistricting, which reduced the Massachusetts congressional delegation from ten to nine. Webster and Oxford, as well as many other towns, became part of the redrawn Second District. Dudley will be in the newly drawn First Congressional District, in which Richard E. Neal is the incumbent.
This spring, five individuals pulled papers to run against Mr. McGovern, but only Mr. Feegbeh returned them.
A Democrat, Mr. Feegbeh, 45, is an unknown to the area, having moved to Worcester, from Brighton just a year ago. He ran for public office against State Senator Steven Tolman in the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District in 2010, losing in the primary by a big margin. In 2009 he ran a sticker campaign for mayor of Boston after failing to get enough signatures to be on the ballot.
Although he's never held public office, he says he's been involved in a number of campaigns as a worker for Shannon O'Brien, John Kerry, and Martha Coakley. “I like politics,” he said when he visited our office in Webster recently.
His education reflects that bent. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Northeastern University, and has just completed a Masters of Education Administration at Cambridge College in Cambridge, Mass. He also attended Brockton High School and Massasoit Community College. He moved here from Liberia in the 70’s.
Mr. Feegbeh is carrying on his congressional campaign single-handedly. He has no staff and no funding. His strategy for getting his name out there is to visit the local town halls to get the voter registration lists and then to “walk the streets to meet people.” He plans to walk in Webster, acknowledging that he probably won't be able to walk all the streets of every town. The Second Congressional District has 63 towns in it.
Mr. Feegbeh wants to bring change to the district. He thinks that Mr. McGovern is not doing the job when it comes to bringing jobs to Massachusetts. He'd like to build for the future, he says, incorporating tomorrow's technology into roads, bridges, public schools, hospitals, public buildings, transportation and infrastructure, thereby creating “millions of jobs.”
A second platform item is to make college education affordable for middle class children so that they can be successful in the global economy. Another goal is to bring affordable houses into the congressional district. He also says he will work with the president and Congress to bring the troops home from overseas.
In our conversation, Mr. Feegbeh mentioned public safety. “Having good public safety is important. The police should treat residents properly. They are there to enforce the law. But they can't harass people.”
Mr. Feegbeh had two recent run-ins with the law, and was charged with assault and battery. He says the court is in the process of dismissing the charges.
“I hope people will vote for me. People want to see candidates who are determined.” Mr. Feegbeh does seem determined to keep trying to get into office, going for a higher office every time.
Even if he doesn't win, “my name will be out there,” he says, “and they'll say he ran for Congress.”