Althea Garrison is no quitter: The perennial candidate is back on the ballot for the 5th Suffolk state representative seat and feeling confident about her chances to return to the Legislature. “I know a lot of people probably figured I would have given up by now, but nope, nope, nope. I’m not a quitter.”
In an interview with the Reporter, Garrison said she has been working hard on the campaign trail in the lead-up to the Sept. 9 primary where she hopes to pull an upset win over incumbent Evandro Carvalho.
Garrison previously held the 5th Suffolk seat 20 years ago as a Republican for a two-year term beginning in 1993. After losing her re-election bid, she dropped her party affiliation altogether before registering as a Democrat more than a decade ago. She has been a ballot mainstay in the city’s elections for years, with runs for the Legislature beginning in 1982, and bids for City Council in 2011 and 2013.
“A lot of people remember me from when I was a state rep and say they’re glad I’m running,” she said.
A self-described conservative Democrat, Garrison opposes many taxes and tax increases, including the state’s recently increased gas tax. She will push to cut property taxes by 15 percent if elected. Her efforts have earned her the endorsement of Citizens for Limited Taxation, an anti-tax Tea Party group that has endorsed her previous bids for office.
Garrison says her campaign tactics, using fliers stating her platform, including fighting for senior citizens and veterans and working to restore MBTA bus service on the 15, 16, 17, and 45 routes, shows she’s focused on the issues. So far, she says she has distributed 10,000 campaign fliers in English, and nearly another 5,000 double-sided fliers in Spanish and Cape Verdean Creole.
She criticized Carvalho for using so many campaign signs around the neighborhood in the special election and again in the primary. “I don’t even know his issues. It’s unbelievable that someone like that could get elected.”
When asked if her lack of an Internet presence posed a hindrance to connecting with younger voters, Garrison called it a non-issue. She has disavowed email, social media, and the Internet altogether. “I don’t want to deal with that at all. If people want to talk to me, call me up and I’ll either pick the phone up or return their phone calls.”
But does that hurt her ability to connect with younger voters? “It probably does, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not an issue,” she said. “They, young people, come up and hug me in the street. It is harder for me, but I don’t mind it.”
If she makes it through the primary, Garrison will have to prove her mettle against Republican Claudette Joseph in the general election, but she’s not worried. “I couldn’t keep this seat as a Republican, so I know she won’t be able to win the seat.”
Not to be outpaced by the Republicans swinging through Fields Corner last week, Democratic activists canvassed the neighborhood in the party’s final weekend of action, with events taking place statewide. “Part of the effort is to grow a pool of likely voters for general election,” said Ben Downing, coordinated campaign co-chair for the Massachusetts Democratic party and a state senator representing western Massachusetts.
“We know there are a lot of Democrat voters in presidential election years, particularly in urban areas. The more we directly engage those voters, not through mail or TV but by knocking on doors and visiting neighborhoods, they’ll be more likely to tune in, and, we think, turn out.”