As the towns of Wilmington and Tewksbury prepare to elect the next representative for Middlesex county’s 19th district this coming fall, each candidate’s position regarding prominent issues facing today’s society will be closely scrutinized. And rightfully so. Surely, every candidate will have a meticulously crafted blueprint of how they intend to enhance the quality of life for Wilmington and Tewksbury residents by addressing those issues most inimical to our quality of life. Indeed, fewer societal ills have had a more deleterious impact than that of addiction.
Individuals who have not been at least indirectly impacted by addiction are an endangered species today, if not already extinct. Thus what distinguishes the right candidate among a field of qualified political candidates in contemporary society is an innate and refined insight that transcends public policy and humanizes sensitive topics such as this. The towns of Wilmington and Tewksbury need a representative who will not just advocate for them, but will empower them. An individual capable of casting aside the political lens when necessary to meet people where they are at. The right candidate is someone willing to forge quality relationships with constituents while learning exactly what it is that they need at any given point in their lives. And as a veteran of the United States Marine Corps recovering from alcoholism, I consider myself fortunate to have come across one such candidate while volunteering for the late representative James Miceli.
I lost my father and my best friend, Raymond C. Spinazola Sr, on March 5, 2014. I had already achieved two weeks of sobriety, and had promised him that I had taken my last drink. But the damage had already been done, as there was a second OUI pending in Woburn District Court, the center of my late father’s social and professional universe. My life was in shambles and I had disgraced his name one final time. A prominent citizen of the city of Woburn, my father had always advised me that one of the keys to a happy and fulfilling life is to become involved and engaged in the community around me. However it would not be until years later, after his death and along the winding road of recovery from alcoholism; that I would learn just how correct he truly was.
The most sobering moment of my life was holding my father’s hand as he slowly slipped away. The fear in his eyes was palpable, but what struck me was that his fear was born not of the unknown that accompanied his imminent death. No. What he feared most until his final breath was the possibility that he had failed to instill in me all of the qualities and values that I would need to continue down the path of recovery from alcoholism. Just two weeks after my father’s funeral I was convicted of my second OUI in Woburn District Court. This was my rock bottom. However what I had soon began to realize was that whatever lessons my late father had not succeeded in teaching me during life, he had most assuredly taught me in death. Now in full recovery mode, I was ready to make wholesale lifestyle changes as I elicited strength from these deepest moments of despair. I utilized my father’s death to empower me to seek out the degree of civic engagement that he had spent the final 33 plus years of his life pleading with me to undertake. It was the fall of 2014 when I made a phone call to the late representative James Miceli’s office in order to volunteer for his campaign, and the voice that greeted me on the other end of the line was none other than his chief of staff, David Robertson, who penciled me in to hold signs with other Miceli supporters. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that my road to recovery had just been freshly paved.
It soon became apparent to me that David Robertson possesses a keen ability to relate to people. David took the time to learn about me, as well as the journey that is my recovery, and realized the integral role that becoming engaged in my community would play in maintaining my sobriety. David availed him self of every opportunity to seek out additional outlets and avenues for me to get involved in the community and establish new networks of friends, as I continued to adapt to a brand new lifestyle. David referred me to the Wilmington Democratic Committee, where I remain a member today, and it is with the help of David, as well as my family and friends that I was able to expand my network of support while undertaking the greatest battle of my life. This support also extended to members of my family.
David did not hesitate to have the department of public health show up to field a concern of my elderly mother’s. He acted as liaison between relatives in search of a home and the housing authority. And even arranged for my fiancé to speak to an immigration attorney to in an effort to allay concerns regarding related to her impending asylum.
As I stood there with David holding representative Miceli’s signs at the intersection of route 129 and 38 in the fall of 2014, I could have never fathomed that in just four short years, I would be a licensed certified social worker en route to having achieved 4 years and 4 months of sobriety a mere two weeks away from wedding the love of my life. Perhaps it is fitting that I will be married on Independence Day, as this is the first time in my life that I have truly felt independent.
The role of the representative elected this fall is to serve the people of the 19th congressional district, including the towns of Tewksbury and Wilmington, for a two-year term. The representative will, among other duties, strive to introduce bills, formulate resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees all towards the greater good of the community and the ability of each constituent to obtain a greater quality of life. It is my sincerest hope that whoever is elected to succeed the late representative James Miceli this fall will successfully fulfill all of the aforementioned roles. However it is fact that if elected, David Robertson will continue to have this kind of impact on the lives of those in the community.
I’m living proof.
Ray Spinazola Jr.
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