‘No one is underqualified’: first-year jumps head-on into local politics


Walker Borgmann

Angus Abercrombie in front of the Massachusetts State House.

By Chloe Els, Staff Writer

First-year and political communications major Angus Abercrombie is running to represent Precinct 8 in Belmont, MA, at its biannual town meeting. He announced his first political campaign via Twitter in August.  

In Belmont, a Boston suburb of about 26,000 people, each precinct must vote for 12 candidates out of 36 representatives elected annually to three-year terms. The body of government determines how the town is run and how its budget is allocated.

Since announcing his candidacy, Abercrombie received mixed reactions from fellow politicians concerning his youth. 

“I’ve had people comment when I agree with them that it’s great that I’m young and involved in politics, and I’ve had people comment when I disagree with them that I’m naive,” he said. “You get both.”

At first, Abercrombie did not plan to run for office. His interests centered around conservation activism, which stemmed from his part-time job at Mass Audubon. 

“I realized [activism] was so much harder and more complicated than it needs to be,” said Abercrombie. “That is basically the beginning of everything I think about now when it comes to politics.”

Inspired by politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania John Fetterman, and Lucas Kunce—a democrat who recently ran for senate—Abercrombie ultimately decided to pursue politics over activism alone.

“[These politicians] are people who focus on getting stuff done for working people in their states,” Abercrombie said. 

However, Abercrombie cited his biggest inspiration as “the people who aren’t so good—the people I wouldn’t mind seeing the back of.”

Although politics was not Abercombie’s lifelong goal, he found getting involved was easier than expected. 

“The biggest misconception people have about local government… is that they are underqualified,” he said. “No one is underqualified to run.”

Abercrombie views inexperience as a starting point rather than a limitation, believing it to be a reason to get involved. He immersed himself in his local government quickly, eventually connecting with his state senator and representatives. 

“I was completely out of state politics in January of this year,” Abercrombie said. “Now, I’m an associate member of the Belmont Democratic Town Committee. It’s very easy to go a long way; you just have to make that first step.”

The Belmont Democratic Town Committee brands itself as Belmont’s “local, grassroots branch of the Democratic Party” that advocates for the party’s ideals, according to its website. As an associate member, Abercrombie attended meetings where he met Democratic candidates running for state government positions. 

On Sept. 22, Abercrombie will be returning to Belmont in the hopes of being appointed a Full Voting Member of the Town Committee. In this role, Abercrombie will vote on budget items and endorsements concerning the town.

Linda Levin Scherz, a chairperson of the committee, said she feels “thrilled” Abercrombie is running to represent his precinct in Belmont’s town meeting.

“Angus joined as a high school student, and all of us on the committee were impressed by his deep knowledge of candidates and issues and his desire to work towards goals,” Scherz said. “Everybody loves him.”

Like Abercrombie, Scherz emphasized the importance of local government, especially since she has seen local elections across the country come under attack by those who want to impose restrictions and bans. 

“If people don’t think local elections matter, they’re wrong,” she said.

Despite not living in Belmont during the academic year, Abercrombie plans to maintain his connection with the community he grew up in. 

“Belmont will always be home,” he said. “Any time I want to, I can walk from the Little Building over to Park Street Station, get on the Red Line, grab a Bluebike, and go home.”

While Abercrombie is excited to attend Emerson and interested in its student government, he does not plan on joining, largely to avoid over-committing himself. 

Currently, Abercrombie is planning how many flyers to print and who to hire for his campaign staff. 

He plans to center his campaign around the Belmont community. 

“I’m going to be knocking on every door in my precinct and talking to every voter I can,” he said. “Most of them aren’t going to go to the polls in April, and quite a few of them aren’t going to vote for me. But if they live in my precinct in Belmont, then they are the people I want to represent. And I want to hear from them.”

The Precinct 8 election will be held in Belmont’s Winn Brook school gym. Although the date will not be officially set until the certification of the town election warrant, the election will likely take place on April 4, 2023.