I don't know Bill Delahunt well, but the few times I've met him, his humanity has shined through. The last time we chatted was a few summers ago at a fundraiser for the Police Athletic League (PAL) at the Airplane House in Woods Hole. At that function, our soon-to-be-retiring Congressman talked about his love for Falmouth and Cape Cod, his involvement with PAL as a kid, and his previous work as a lawman to improve the lives of his constituents. Bill Delahunt isn't a Cape Codder, but in his fourteen years as our representative in congress, the interests of our peninsula have been a priority for him, and our community is a better place because of his efforts. I may not agree with some of his positions on national issues, but on issues like preservation of our natural resources, funding for our police and fire departments, and support for our local installations for the Coast Guard, Bill Delahunt has been a champion for Cape Cod as a whole, and Falmouth in particular. I feel comfortable with him as our Congressman.
I get the same feeling with the prospect of Bill Keating being our next occupant of the 10th Congressional District seat. He has the same everyman quality that makes Delahunt so approachable and, as a bonus, he is calling Cape Cod home. Bill and his wife Tevis have made a home in Monument Beach for the last fifteen years, and had a place on the Vineyard for ten years before that - he understands what it means to be a Cape Codder. I met Bill at the Daily Brew in Cataumet this week, and was immediately impressed and felt at home with his authenticity. As I observed the Norfolk County DA greet locals, new faces and old friends alike with the same energy and enthusiasm, my comfort level grew. I looked around and saw Falmouthites like Steve and Michelle Hough, former Base Commander, ZBA member and dear friend Ernie Keating, and Kathy Hickey, and knew that this candidate was a man of the people. With so much at stake in our elections today, from the local one I wrote about last week, to the state and federal ones this fall, it is more important than ever to get to know the candidates, and make sure they are in it for the right reasons. I get that feeling with Bill Keating - and heard that message at the Daily Brew.
I then heard Bill speak of his understanding of the job of Congressman as a "stewardship to protect national resources," and listened as he explained that the 10th District, which includes all of Cape Cod and the Islands, is unlike any other in Massachusetts and needs to be protected. He spoke of finding his house in Bourne many years ago, looking around with a smile and saying, "This is it." He gets it.
As a hawkish conservative Democrat, I also wanted to make sure that Bill isn't soft on our security. As a District Attorney, he has seen the worst in our society, and spoke of that job giving him a "lens on life" that has prepared him for lawmaking in Washington. He recently introduced a proposal to close a loophole that allows people on the FBI terror watchlist to legally purchase guns. As the son of a WWII veteran who was also a policeman and veteran's agent, Bill also gets the importance of service at the local level. The more I learned the more I felt like this guy identifies with average Falmouthites - and that's what the vote for our next Congressman is about - local issues. Sure, the heady stuff of banking reform and Venezuelan oil makes for great dinner conversation, but, as Tip O'Neill said it best, all politics is indeed local, and Bill Keating is local indeed.
I keep this column local for a reason. There is plenty happening within our 44 square miles to keep me busy - and to keep us thinking, but the choice to replace Bill Delahunt will impact Falmouth more than any election in recent memory - there is that much at stake. I'm going to spend some time getting to know Bill Keating, because he just may be the man for the job.
With federal funding and involvement with critical issues like our wastewater management, our young Falmouthites heading to war, and confidence in our elected officials heading to an all-time low, the man I saw over a cup of coffee in Cataumet helped restore a little faith in our future.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.