The new 9th Congressional District, encompassing a relatively small, but populated swath of Greater Fall River, may hold the opportunity for the type of change that voters seem to crave but rarely realize.
With no incumbent currently occupying the 9th, the heir-apparent has been U.S. Rep. William Keating, a former Norfolk County District Attorney who was elected in 2010 as a Quincy resident to represent the 10th District. Facing a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in what became the 8th District, Keating earlier this year packed up for a family summer home in Bourne to run in the 9th, arguably a politically opportunistic move.
But if expediency is the hallmark of the Democrat in this race, both the Republican — Plymouth’s Christopher Sheldon — and Independent candidate and Fall River resident Daniel Botelho demonstrate a refreshing lack of the politics-as-usual mindset.
Both self-described fiscal conservatives with backgrounds in finance, they agreed on most points during a recent Editorial Board endorsement meeting, which Keating repeatedly refused to participate in.
Sheldon, however, seemed to lack an understanding of Greater Fall River, grouping the city with New Bedford’s interests, rather than recognizing Fall River’s unique identity, challenges and opportunities. Botelho, a lifelong Fall River resident, has personal knowledge of the challenges facing our city and region, an advantage he’s smart enough to often underscore.
Articulate and polished with some interesting ideas, Sheldon tends to stick to the Republican orthodoxy. Botelho, a bit rougher around the edges, offers a more energized approach. As an independent, Botelho pointed out, he would be able to work more effectively with leaders of both parties to represent the district’s interests. In many ways, Botelho is the embodiment of the “people’s candidate.”
Botelho said he has “a score to settle” regarding trade policies that deep-sixed his parents’ garment industry business. He is earnest and passionate about his desire to be part of the solution, and he is clearly not afraid to speak his mind. Botelho is determined to be a strong advocate for SouthCoast interests and challenge the status quo, while the other candidates seem much more likely to serve as rubber stamps for their respective parties and merely parachute in for photo ops.
While the U.S. Congress is a giant leap for Botelho to take in his first run for public office, he gives voice to the frustrated masses wearied of career politicians and broken partisan politics. Instead of complaining about it, Botelho jumped into the 9th Congressional District race in order to change it.