For 25 years, Beacon Street resident Kevin Cuff has played a role in politics as a business and banking advocate.
Now, after recent redistricting of legislative districts put his home and three Andover voting precincts in a "majority minority" district of Lawrence voters, Cuff says he is ready to enter the final frontier of politics for him - an elected position.
"I've been doing it for 25 years. I just haven't been voted into it," said Cuff. "There's this small thing called an election standing in my way."
Part of his reason for running involves the recent change to the voting district he lives in. The new 17th Essex Legislative District will be made up of around 36 percent Andover voters, 56 percent Lawrence voters and 8 percent Methuen voters.
Whoever wins the seat — Cuff or Lawrence Democrat Frank Moran, who also serves as president of the City Council — will be in a position to bring about change in Lawrence, a city with a school system in crisis and crime rates that many say are out of control.
"They have real problems in the city that need to have real leadership address them," said Cuff. "We have identified what the problems are, but the current state of the leadership in that city isn't getting the job done."
With the recent district change, a "tale of two worlds" is unfolding, according to Cuff, and he believes he has the ability to represent both Lawrence and Andover residents.
Whoever wins the election will serve as the legislative voice for a portion of Andover's schools and residents, which face its own problems, and also Lawrence, where Cuff said many residents view replacing the city's mayor as a No. 1 priority to solve a number of other issues.
"They think the leadership issue is the predicate in the whole thing," said Cuff. "My job in it would be to be absolutely certain that the state budgetary process appropriately represents both communities to the extent that it can.
"I'm penetrating in all precincts in Lawrence, and I'm making headway," said Cuff. "I care — that's my motto. I care. But this is a tale of two [worlds]."
Citing a recently published ranking that placed Andover among the best Massachusetts towns and Lawrence at the lowest point on the list, Cuff said, "to all my neighbors in precincts 2, 3 and 4 who all live up near Lawrence, how good is Andover when Lawrence is the No. 1 worst?"
The district, long represented by Andover residents, is currently represented by Paul Adams, who is running for state senate this year.
Cuff has lived in Andover for 16 years with his wife and 9-year-old daughter. He is a member of the towns's Housing Partnership Committee and he has coached in Little League Baseball and the Andover Girls Softball League.
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