NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 15, 2013

Remembering allies, friends

Yesterday was Flag Day; I started flying my porch flag early last weekend, at half-staff, to note the passing of both former Gov. Paul Cellucci and former Salem Mayor Jean Levesque.

My relationship with them is a tale of two ballot questions.

During the Proposition 2½ campaign in 1980, it was my job to sell this dramatic proposed law to the voters, arguing for a 15 percent property tax cut in many communities, followed by a permanent annual levy limit. At the time, I knew only the Marblehead Board of Selectmen, which endorsed it, and two mayors: Jean Levesque of Salem and Peter Torigian of Peabody. So I thought, what can go wrong?

Then I met other mayors. But anyhow, after the ballot question passed in both their communities, Levesque and Torigian set about doing what their voters asked and responsibly implemented the levy limit.

After he left office, Jean Levesque occasionally called or dropped me a note to encourage my activism; he even joined Citizens for Limited Taxation and remained a member until his death last week. He also remained very active in his community and had a long, interesting and rewarding life with a lovely family that I met Sunday at his wake.

Paul Cellucci had an interesting life, too, but it was cruelly cut short by ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was barely a senior citizen when he died last weekend. I just found the notecard on my desk that I’d intended to send him when I heard of his diagnosis; I wonder why I never followed through. I guess I didn’t know what to say about having such a terrible disease, and yet, from what I’m reading in the newspapers, he made good use of his remaining time, working to find a cure, while still remaining involved in politics, his job, with his family.

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