During the early part of his life, Republican politics was all Martin Heyman knew.
"I was born in Springfield, Mass. and grew up being a Republican. My father and mother were Republican, but they were not very active [in politics]," Heyman says. "Without ever thinking what it was all about, I was a Republican."
But after moving to New York City in 1958, Heyman says his attitude changed and he began to get involved with the Democratic Party. Along with his wife Susan, a lifelong activist and Democrat, the two became politically active in their community of Greenwich Village.
"I got a lot from [Susan]," Heyman says. "More than anything else, she was an influence on me."
The two eventually left New York City for Boston's Back Bay, where they continued to be involved with local ward politics and worked on Barney Frank's first campaign (for the Mass. Legislature). They then moved to Newton in 1973 where they started a family and joined the Ward 6 Newton Democratic Committee.
Earlier this year, Susan was elected as one of eight Fourth District delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and Martin was elected as an alternate. Newton Democratic City Committee Vice-Chair Sharon Stout was also elected as a delegate.
Patch recently had a chance to chat with Martin to hear more about his political influences, experiences and what he's looking forward to at the DNC, which kicks off today:
Name: Martin Heyman
Village: Newton Centre
Occupation: Contractor (former actor)
Q. Is this your first Democratic National Convention? What is your motivation to attend?
A. Yes, this is my first DNC. I have been progressively more involved and I have worked on several campaigns including Bush vs. Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, Deval Patrick in 2006, and Obama in 2008. [The DNC] is the culmination of all the campaigning I’ve done over the years.
Q. How long have you been active in politics? What are some other organizations/political events you've been involved with?
A. Started in 1960 with John F. Kennedy's campaign. I attended the march on Washington in 1963 (I stood next to Hubert Humphrey on the podium of the Lincoln Memorial) and the anti-war march on Washington in 1968.
Q. Who are you looking forward to seeing at the convention?
A. Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Michelle Obama.
Q. Do you have a political hero or major political influence?
A. Thomas Jefferson, F.D.R. and Martin Luther King.
Q. What fires you up? Why are you involved in this election year?
A. This is the most important election I can remember. We are debating whether the American economy is at a peak. The winning party may lead us toward a more, or less, egalitarian society.
Q. What do you believe is the most important issue this election year?
A. I don't want to isolate only one issue. Equally important to me is:
- The future makeup of the Supreme Court - more five to four partisan decisions are dangerous.
- If we now switch the economy to an austerity program (for the middle class), when we are on the way to recovery we may return to a deeper recession than 2008/2009. A reasonable and controlled stimulus program is recommended by most non-political economists.
- We mustn't abandon regulations on financial institutions.
- We need to counteract or overturn “Citizens United” to limit money in politics.
Q. Do you have any advice or motivational words for people who may be thinking about becoming more active in politics?
- Throughout history, reactionary forces have been unable to hold back the tide of progress. Revolutions, civil rights, women's suffrage, gay rights, progressive taxation; progressive societies have eventually prevailed. It just takes a long time. Michelle Obama said it right: "We just have to keep on showing up!"
- I wish that more Americans would participate in elections -- their avoidance, whether due to feelings of impotence or ignorance, can undermine our democracy.