Spending the past several years in a key role with a housing nonprofit was one big factor in Anthony Guardia's decision to run for state senate.
Guardia, a 28-year-old Democrat, graduated from Suffolk Law School in 2010 and since then has been director of development for HomeStart, Inc., which helps tenants in need avoid eviction while also helping others find permanent shelter and stabilize their lives.
If there’s one thing he’s learned with HomeStart, said
Guardia during a recent conversation with Wakefield Patch, it’s that “there are
things we can be doing better at the state level than we are now.” For example,
Guardia notes that a micro-grant of less than $600 has helped some clients of
HomeStart avoid eviction – Compared to the $30,000 per year that the state
may spend housing a family through its motel program.
"I love my job, I love what I'm doing," said Guardia, who describes himself as a fairly devout Catholic who finds motivation in the word "solidarity" in his day to day work.
"I have no reason to want to be a state senator other than that I'm seeing all these problems that need to be addressed," he said.
Guardia, a Malden native, has lived in Wakefield since his early teen years and back then was eyeing a career in film making before falling in love with politics while pursuing his law degree at Suffolk. His family story is reminiscent of an American Dream that seems far more elusive these days - his grandmother was an Italian immigrant who worked as a union seamstress to allow his father to become the first in the family to graduate college, while his mother moved from Italy at age 16 and is now an area bank executive.
“I do think I can bring new ideas, I think it’s time for my generation to step up and kind of take that mantle of leadership,” said Guardia.
The state senate hopeful previously served on the Wakefield School Committee and at age 23 was its chairman. One of the worst moments of his career, he said, was having to cast a budget vote that would result in layoffs in the district.
Guardia also formerly served on the town’s commission on disability issues and challenged former State Rep. Mark Falzone in the 2010 Democratic primary, with a candidacy that focused largely on reforming the state’s Chapter 70 local aid system – and which he recalls did surprisingly well. Guardia added that Wakefield tends to receive less local aid from the state than it should, and said addressing this would be one of his top priorities as a state senator.
Along with his insights gained from working with a nonprofit on a major social issue, Guardia also reports that he’s been talking with everyone that he can about the issues – and that voters are worried about the future, and worried about real issues that affect them daily, as opposed to fixating on partisan politics.
“I never met a Republican in this town who said he doesn’t want Wakefield to do well,” said Guardia, adding that “my politics are really all about social service and social good,” adding that people in a democracy have the ability to move forward in a way that helps all.
“Too many politicians see this as a game,” said Guardia. “This is real life. It’s not a game where you can say ‘I want to win because I’m a Democrat.’ You should want to win because there are real problems not being addressed… There are also solutions out there.”
The special primary in the 5th Middlesex State Senate District is on Tuesday, March 4th, with an April 1 special election date. The seat is currently vacant following the election of Katherine Clark to the U.S. House of Representatives.