Evan Falchuk Runs For Governor
By David A. Mittell, Jr.
Some political interviews stand out for the wrong reasons, fewer for the right ones. Evan Falchuk, candidate for governor on United Independent Party ticket, ranks with the best. He is articulate, passionate, well-informed, and seems to have an inner-directed moral compass. Like Mike Dukakis, Deval Patrick and Mitt Romney his intelligence keeps the interviewer paying attention lest he embarrass himself. In a parallel political universe Mr. Falchuk might be the front runner.
Evan Falchuk founded the United Independent Party out of frustration with the two political parties at both the state and national levels during the 2012 election. "Lines we don't cross because we care about our democracy were being crossed all the time," he says. The new party's goal if lightning doesn't strike is to win at least three percent of the gubernatorial vote in 2014. That would put all its candidates on the state ballot in 2016. Long unopposed Republican and Democratic legislators would be challenged.
Mr. Falchuk's beliefs are laid out in a remarkable short booklet covering 31 issues succinctly, and without the staged equivocation of most politicians. One needn't agree on every point to appreciate that no bull is being slung. Where issues aren't complicated he does not equivocate. He is for same-sex marriage; against expanding the Boston Convention Center with public funds; for labeling genetically-modified food; against the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline in western Massachusetts.
Where issues are complex Mr. Falchuk examines them unburdened by the hardened positions the major parties tend to fall into. An example is Chapter 40B, the state law that lets developers override local law in order to create affordable housing. He is a big fan of Chapters 40R and 40S, which reimburse communities for education and other costs when they agree to higher-density housing at "smart growth" sites. He would grant such communities respite under Chapter 40B. His running mate, Angus Jennings of Concord -- an experienced town planner at 39 (Marshfield, Westford) -- was there at the creation of Chapters 40R and 40S. Mr. Jennings believes the political logjam that has long impeded creation of the housing the state most needs can be broken.
Having worked in health care for 15 years, Mr. Falchuk believes that nominally non-profit hospitals, which tend to have the political influence to regulate their regulators, need to be carefully monitored for anti-competitive practices that raise health-care costs. He was against the approval by his fellow gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Coakley, of Partners Health Care's take over of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.
Evan Falchuk is 44 and lives in Newton, his hometown, with his wife Felicia and their three children. From 1994 to 1999 he worked for a Washington law firm, primarily with the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was on track to become a partner. "But it had no passion," he says. He came back to Massachusetts to work for Best Doctors, a Boston-based global company founded by his father as a small business. Best Doctors works to get misdiagnosed patients second opinions and proper treatment.
Mr. Falchuk's convictions have clearly been influenced by the life of his grandfather, Solomon Falchuk, or Valczuk, who fled Russian Poland alone at the age of 14 after an anti-Jewish pogrom. (This may have been the Pinsk massacre of April 5, 1919.) He found himself hawking ice cream on a beach in Cuba, then went to Venezuela where "the roads were paved with gold." But he wanted his children to get an education. For this, he sent them to the United States. He lived to be 101. Evan Falchuk's passion -- for democracy, for education, for America -- is understood in the way he speaks of Solomon.
Historically, the major parties get rid of upstarts by stealing their ideas. The United Independent Party's challenge is complicated by there being another independent on the Final Election ballot. Success will depend on a lack of enthusiasm for one or both of the major parties' nominees. But watch this movement. Its leader are able and mean what they say.
(David A. Mittell, Jr., is a longtime Massachusetts political columnist.)