Sullivan Hopes Well-Rounded Resume' Will Earn Him Passage to State House
The Brockton City Councilor will be on a Democratic Primary ballot Thursday, Sept. 6
Last year at this time, Brockton City Councilor At-Large Robert Sullivan didn't know he'd be spending his summer knocking on doors in Easton and on the west side of Brockton.
But, around the same time last winter, two unanticipated events occurred.
Sullivan, a Brockton resident who had lived in the 9th Plymouth District (and had lost a State Rep Democratic Primary in that District in 2008 by 13 votes), found that his house had been redistricted to the 11th Plymouth. And, the State Rep representing the 11th Plymouth, Geraldine Creedon (D-Brockton) announced that she would not run, thus leaving an open seat on Beacon Hill.
"I didn’t expect where I live to be taken out of the 9th Plymouth and put into the 11th Plymouth district," he said. "In my wildest dreams I never expected that. I also didn’t anticipate Rep Creedon retiring."
Sullivan thought it was time to have a conversation with his wife, Maria.
"My first thought was to sit down with my wife and say, ‘what do you think?’" he said. "..My wife, who is my number one supporter, said ‘you know what, I think it’s the perfect time to run. You can really make a difference.’"
Sullivan threw his hat into a State Rep race that now includes four Democrats and one Republican. He will square off against Easton resident and Brockton lawyer Claire Cronin, Southeastern Regional School Committee chair Mark Linde and fellow City Councilor Jass Stewart in the Sept. 6 primary election.
The winner will face Easton Selectman Dan Murphy, a Republican, in the general election Nov. 6.
Sullivan, a lawyer who works as the town attorney in Randolph in addition to his role as a City Councilor in Brockton, boasts a wide range of experiences he hopes to bring to the table.
"If you peel back the layers and you say ‘who is going to be the best state rep for me?’ I have city experience, town experience, state house experience, and municipal financing experience," he said. "I understand how to analyze. I know how to draft legislation. I have drafted legislation."
After graduating from Brockton High in 1988, he attended Boston College and earned a degree in Political Science. While working towards his degree, he interned in Washington DC for Congressman Brian Donnelly and on Beacon Hill for State Senator Michael Creedon.
"That kind of got me interested in public service and the political process," he said. "I then went on to law school and received my law degree from New England School of Law."
Sullivan also earned his MBA at Boston College in 2001 while working as an attorney in Boston.
Prior to his work in Randolph, Sullivan served as the Chief Legal Council to the joint committee on election laws on Beacon Hill.
His first venture in politics was in 2005 when, after serving in an appointed Planning Board position, he ran for City Council in Brockton.
"I was elected through really old fashioned politics – knocking on doors, the personal touch, the one on one," he said. "I’m an independent person. A lot of people said ‘don’t waste your time, you're not going to win, nobody knows you.’ But, I think I did it the right way and I’ve been fortunate enough to have the voters re-elect me year after year."
While in office, Sullivan said he wants to bring experiences as a City Councilor, coupled with his experience on Beacon Hill to the state office.
"Having worked up there, I already believe that I understand the process," he said. "Having dealt with municipal finance, I’ve dealt with seven different budgets here in Brockton and 360 million dollars."
Sullivan said he helped save Brockton $500,000 when he advocated for a street light acquisition program, which brought a long-term savings benefit that he said will have real results.
"500 grand – that’s going to keep teachers in the classroom, cops in the streets, firefighters in the station," he said.
While most of his experience is in Brockton, he hopes he can meet the needs of Shovel Town residents as well.
"I think the first thing is you have to be a good listener," he said. "You have to understand and really do your due-dilligence and your homework on the issues that are important to the voters."
"Ultimately, right now, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Easton or Brockton or Belchertown or Provincetown. The biggest thing is the economy. We have to turn around the economy and we have to make sure that job security is there and job growth is going to help Easton and Brockton."
Economic growth is an issue that tops Sullivan's campaign platform, which also includes: Increasing local aid to the District; Increasing public safety for the District; Seeking stimulus/grant funding for the District; Enhancing business and economic development within the District; Providing a quality education for our children; Support enhancements of business and historical district(s); Protecting our environment, open space areas, and wetlands; Opposing the proposed power plant in Brockton; Support Green technology and Green communities; Support the Gateway agenda, initiatives and benefits; Representing and protecting the interests of our District residents and business owners
Sullivan also hopes to stand up for senior citizens - something he said he has already done as a City Councilor.
"I was not afraid to fight back against the mayor when he attempted to increase the premiums to the retirees," Sullivan said. "I said 'that’s not right.' The retirees are the most vulnerable, particularly if they’re living on fixed incomes and they don’t have any sort of representation at the union tables."
He also said he is proud to be endorsed by 17 organizations, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts Nurses Association, Brockton Firefighters, American Postal Workers Union, and United Auto Workers.
The endorsements, he said, weren't easy to obtain. When he ran his last State Rep campaign in 2008, four groups endorsed him.
"Some people say ‘endorsements, they don’t mean anything," he said. "I disagree. The process to get endorsed, you have to do a questionnaire, you have to have an interview. These are  different groups that have endorsed me."
In the end, the candidate hopes voters will consider his entire resume.
"I’ve been knocking on doors since March," he said. "People are excited that there’s going to be change. Change is good. Change is healthy, but is has to be the right change. I don’t envision this as an Easton vs. Brockton or a Brockton vs. Easton. What I envision is: Who is the right candidate to be elected to serve the citizens – the residents?"
Editor's Note: This is the third in a series profiling all of the 11th Plymouth District State Rep candidates. Previously, we profiled Jass Stewart and _Mark Linde_. Keep an eye out for future profiles. Additionally, all five candidates are blogging on Patch. Check out our Local Voices section to see what they have to say!