By David Ertischek ’01
Richard Fucillo Jr. ’21 performs a balancing act: he’s senior in his last semester, vice president of his class, and he coaches a youth baseball league and umpires games.
Oh, he’s also running for state representative.
The Winthrop, Massachusetts native always wanted to run for office. He thought his first foray into running for political office would be next year’s Town Council election. Then, state Rep. Robert DeLeo announced he was leaving office after 30 years (the past 12, he’s been the Speaker of House).
“It became apparent to me this would be a great opportunity to get my name out there and [I] decided to run,” said Fucillo. “I think it’s important to give back to your community and this is one of the best ways I know how. Many issues predate my life. When I think about all these issues that exist, it’s up to my generation to fix these issues and we have to get to work now.”
Fucillo is a Communications major with a minor in Sign Language, and commutes from Winthrop. He said the balancing act was eased by attending College remotely.
He said his time at Emerson has helped inform his campaign, and that the College’s diverse student body, faculty and staff have helped him gain a perspective other than his own.
“My [home] town is a lot of the same people. It’s 90 percent white. I went to school there, everything I did was here, and I grew up with the same people,” said Fucillo. “From going to Emerson I learned from people of all walks of life, from all over the globe. My campaign manager is from Russia, a kid who translated my website is from Colombia, another friend of mine is from Brazil who’s been instrumental in helping me in my campaign. I wouldn’t know these people if I hadn’t gone to Emerson.”
Fucillo is running as an unenrolled candidate, automatically advancing him to the final election on March 30, where he will face Democrat and Republican opponents.
“Everyone sees that politics are divisive. We don’t have to have this divisive approach,” said Fucillo. “People blindly believe their party. ‘My rep supports this so I support it,’ and half the time they don’t know what’s in the bill. We have to hear both sides, hear other perspectives before deciding what’s right.”
One perspective that many residents share is frustration with the rising cost of water. He said Winthrop water bills are nearly double those in other communities and have steadily gone up through the years.
Subsidies/grants/incentives… we have a lot of talk about a green future, but how accessible is it to lower income families? 16k just to install solar panels! We need an accessible green future for all! #fucillojr4rep #mapoli #Winthrop #revere— Richard Fucillo Jr (@FucilloJr_4Rep) February 23, 2021
“People are fed up with the cost and it’s driving people out of the community. We have to focus on why is it going up? How do we bring the price down?” said Fucillo. “And we need to give assistance to people in the community who are struggling [to pay their bills]. Especially during the pandemic, we have to make sure they’re not running out of money.”
Another issue is very personal for Fucillo. He would like to reform family court. As a child of divorce, he experienced his parents spending thousands of dollars while working through family court for seven years.
There have been numerous Massachusetts bills through years to reshape family court, but Fucillo says bar associations often fight them, and the bills don’t advance.
First Time Running, Not the Last Time
Fucillo knows he’s new to politics, but he also believes he has a lot to offer voters.
“I don’t know everything. As we know, politics is an everchanging atmosphere. Politics from 20 years ago is not the same politics of today,” said Fucillo. “When they talk about experience, they’re talking about successes from 10 or 20 years ago. That’s interesting and good, but we need answers for tomorrow, not what you did 20 years ago.
“One of the things a leader does is learn. I take pride that I’m student and I’m able to learn as I go. I know the things I don’t know, and I’m willing to sit down with experts and learn. Just because you’re an elected official doesn’t mean you can’t learn more,” added Fucillo.
Fucillo has also enlisted numerous Emersonians to help on his campaign. His campaign manager Makar Kirikov ’21, has done all of the campaign’s video work. Other Emersonians have come out to hold signs during standouts, as have Fucillo’s friends from high school and other colleges.
Fucillo says his road to a victory includes energizing younger residents to come out and vote for him. Young people often don’t vote in the district, says Fucillo, so he’s been engaging voters through social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram. He said he’s relying on media outlet coverage, or things such as letters to the editor, to also foster enthusiasm for his campaign.
He said on average, 14,000 people vote in Revere and Winthrop during a presidential election like this past fall. Midterm elections turn out about 10,000 people. He estimates that for his race being a special election, he thinks 6,000 to 8,000 voters will come out to the polls.
“I think I can pull away with the win. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. God forbid it doesn’t work out, then I move on the next [election],” said Fucillo. “I definitely want to run again. Just because you lose once doesn’t mean you don’t try again. There are people who lost 10 times before getting elected to office. I think I’m going to win my first.”