College grad returns home to run

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April 2, 2010

4:02 AM

It was during the winter of his senior year at the College of William and Mary that Jake Bombard ’09 decided he would run for state representative from his home district of Boston, Mass.

“I spent my winter break hanging out in the D Street Projects, where I grew up in South Boston,” Bombard said.

But the events of that winter changed the tone of Bombard’s developing campaign.

“When I came back [to Boston], three more people I grew up with had died from drug overdoses.”

This didn’t surprise him.

“I’ve seen that kind of thing my whole life,” Bombard said. “But for the very first time in my life, I felt like I could really do something about it.”

Bombard entered the race in February, making him one of five Democrats running in a six-person race.

One year ago, Bombard was a senior at the College, working as a bouncer at the Green Leafe Cafe and devoting his extra time to organizations such as UNICEF and AIDS Tanzania. He spent the summer before his junior year studying art history and Italian in Florence, Italy, and spent time in Africa working with AIDS Tanzania.

But one thing in particular stands out about Bombard’s time at the College — a dinner conversation between a friend and a professor.

“Professor [Paula] Blank said she was worried about me,” Bombard said. “She told my friends she was worried that I would skate through life relying just on charm instead of hard work.”

Bombard said her comments had a major impact on him.\

“No one has ever pinned me to the cork as accurately as she did,” he said. “When I heard that, it was such a wakeup call for me. I’m so grateful for what she said, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to prove her wrong.”

Bombard said his platform rests on anything but charm.

“I’m the only candidate with a platform that includes specific goals and issues I want to fight for,” he said.

Regressive taxation, library closures and corruption in the Massachusetts state government are just a few of the issues he said he hopes to tackle in his campaign.

“If I’m elected state representative, my greatest aspiration is to help restore people’s trust in our state government,” Bombard said.

Bombard is also campaigning to expand LGBT rights and build programs for pregnant woman with alcohol and drug addictions, two controversial topics in the district.

“I’m trying to run a campaign that is clean and focused on issues that affect people’s lives,” he said. “I’m not afraid to give my opinion, even if it’s an unpopular one. I feel that by being open with people, I will set myself apart.”

Although the Democratic Party suffered a recent setback in the election for former senator Ted Kennedy’s seat, Bombard says he is not intimidated by partisan politics.

“I think that people of this state elected [Republican Senator] Scott Brown because they’re frustrated with the way things are in this state,” he said. “People didn’t vote for party lines — they voted for a change from the status quo, and even though I’m a Democrat, I think I reflect that change that people are looking for.”

Bombard currently works for the South Boston Neighborhood House, a community center in his area, and spearheads a community service organization named Project ROC. Alhough he advertises Project ROC on his campaign website, he insists that it is not linked to his elections efforts, and instead generally promotes activism in local causes and organizations.

“Whether I win or lose, I will be satisfied as long as I get to keep fighting for my causes and talking about the serious problems we have here,” Bombard said.

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