Vote Like Housing Matters

I’m working on an election roundup post and pep talk, but a story in the Cape Cod Times caught my eye yesterday and pissed me off enough that I’m devoting a post to it.

Travvy jumps for Dylan and Julian, fall 2016.

I hadn’t paid all that much attention to the guy running against State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). Travvy and I did a little campaigning for Julian in 2016, and he’s done a stellar job in his freshman term so I’m campaigning for him again — more zealously this time because our equally stellar state representative, Dylan Fernandes, is running unopposed. Dylan isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet, however: he’s working hard for the coordinated Democratic campaigns, including Julian’s. But I digress . . .

So yesterday I read in the Cape Cod Times that Senator Cyr’s opponent, whose name is John Flores and who is on the Barnstable town council, “has recently suggested — in campaign mailers and media interviews — that Cyr does not live in the district.”

WTF? Julian grew up in Truro, lives in Truro, and has lived in Truro most of his life. I was so floored that I read on.

Flores “has not offered evidence to substantiate that contention,” added the Times story. Then it quoted Flores as saying this: “I don’t know where he lives. I don’t think he owns property on Cape Cod or pays taxes here or contributes to the local economy.”

And I got it: Flores checked the property tax rolls, didn’t find Julian’s name on it, and concluded that Julian doesn’t live in the district.

Excuse me for shouting, but if you can’t come up with the screamingly obvious explanation for Julian’s not being on the property tax rolls, you know diddly about the Cape & Islands district and shouldn’t be running for office until you learn that affordable housing is one of our most pressing issues.

And while we’re at it, why didn’t you bother to check the voting lists or the town census before you concluded that Julian doesn’t live in the district?

Julian is 32. He grew up on the Cape, working in his family’s restaurant, and since then he’s worked in the less-than-lucrative public sector. Many members of his age cohort, not to mention those considerably older, have been leaving Cape Cod and both islands because they can’t find affordable housing. The lucky ones, like me, find something we can afford to rent. John Flores, what planet do you live on?

Or, as Julian put it: “John Flores is sinking lower and lower into dirty and false political attacks to distract voters from the issues that matter. This isn’t the way we do politics on the Cape. I proudly live on the Outer Cape, where I’ve spent most all of my life. My legal address is in Truro. I don’t own a home because, like many Cape Codders & Islanders, I’ve never been able to afford a down payment.”

Flores, it seems, dug himself in deeper. From the Cape Cod Times story: “By not owning property on the Cape, Cyr does not pay taxes, Flores contends, thereby not contributing to local school systems, public safety or town government.”

WTAF?? Leaving aside the obvious — that property taxes are generally reckoned in when the landlord sets the rent — Flores seems to believe that paying taxes as a property owner is the only way to contribute “to local school systems, public safety or town government.”

Maybe he’d like to go back to the early days of the Republic, when only white male property owners were allowed to vote?

For the record, sir: renters contribute by teaching in local school systems, volunteering as EMTs and staffing our health-care institutions, and supporting town government in a variety of ways. We support the local economy by spending our money here, and that includes what we spend on rent (which adds up to a lot). And don’t get me started on the hours and energy we devote to nonprofits and arts-related activities.

When I vote, I look for candidates who’ve given some evidence that they understand what the lives of regular working people are like. Julian Cyr is such a passionate and effective advocate for the Cape & Islands district in part because he knows from firsthand experience what we’re up against.

John Flores clearly hasn’t a clue, although he’s calling himself  a “fourth-generation Cape Codder” from a traditional Provincetown fishing family. However, he was also “born in Boston, raised in Dorchester and attended Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury,” according to the Cape Cod Times. “A resident of Cummaquid for much of the past decade, Flores says he has lived on Nantucket and spent time in Provincetown and West Barnstable during summers.”

In my book that makes him a “year-round summer person”: someone who lives here year-round but thinks real life happens elsewhere and doesn’t have a clue about the challenges of living on the Cape or either island. Apparently the number of such people is growing on the Cape, and many of them vote Republican.

Moral of story: Don’t take Julian’s re-election for granted, or the Blue Wave either. Early voting started this past Monday and continues through November 2. Check with your town clerk for hours. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Be a voter!

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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9 Responses to Vote Like Housing Matters

  1. Because we HAVE to laugh or cry, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hal Davis says:

    I’m amazed the Cape Cod Times reported his remarks since Flores “has not offered evidence to substantiate that contention.” But it did lead to a spirited rebuttal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was part of a political roundup column rather than a straight news story, so that might explain it. The piece was rather slyly written and/or edited to suggest that Flores was way out on a limb: not only with Julian’s rebuttal but with Flores’s own chronology, which makes pretty clear that he’s a recent arrival with a fairly tenuous connection to the place.


  3. marjorie561 says:

    well said


  4. Shirley says:

    Susanna – excellent post – put it all in a letter to the Cape Cod Times as well as our two papers so many more people can read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am thinking you should write a book on American politics for the average American. After one of your posts I am ready to fight for Vineyard flag! And I have never been there…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence! Once this political season is over, I intend to get back to my second novel (I’m currently closing in on the end of draft #3), and then I’m ready to get down to my third, which is going to deal much more with politics than either of the first two. I also think it’s going to be a comedy. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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