Entrepreneur Rick Green Says He’ll Empower Voters The Way He Has His Customers

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2018/02/25/entrepreneur-rick-green-says-hell-empower-voters-the-way-he-has-his-customers/

Rick Green’s experience as an entrepreneur resonates with his supporters and helps separate him from other candidates in their eyes.

Green, 47, co-founder of 1A Auto Parts in Pepperell, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in the Third District, which includes large portions of the Merrimack Valley along the New Hampshire border and goes as far south as Marlborough. It includes Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, and Fitchburg.

The seat is currently held by U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas, a Democrat who is retiring at the end of this term. A dozen Democrats are running for the seat in the September primary.

Green mingled with mostly friendly voters during a recent campaign stop in Methuen. In interviews by New Boston Post with about a half-dozen of them, Green’s business background came up repeatedly.

Tim Buckley, 56, of Methuen, said fiscal responsibility and keeping government within its rightful parameters are major concerns for him, and that Green’s experience starting and running a business impresses him.

“He knows what it means to put up his own money and take a risk with his own money. And the bottom line is we live in a place and a time where people want to redistribute other people’s income,” Buckley said. “But what’s lost in that is the person who took a bigger risk than you is entitled to the rewards of his risk, and you don’t get to have the same reward as the person who took a bigger risk than you.”

Buckley sees Green as helping improve business confidence if he were elected to Congress.

“Anything that does that is good for everybody. Not just the person who’s making the profit,” Buckley said.

In the public square Green is best known for his connection to Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for fiscal discipline in the state and leans on state legislators who support bigger government. Green served as chairman from 2012 until last fall, when he stepped down to run for Congress.

Green, who lives in Pepperell, started 1A Auto Parts with his brother in 1999. It now has 450 employees.

He described his business to several supporters during the appearance February 17 at Mann Orchards in Methuen, which often hosts political candidates.

“My company sells parts online, but what we do is we empower people to make their own repairs,” Green said, explaining that how-to videos on YouTube helped build the business.

He offered as an example a somewhat handy person who considers cars too complicated to work on, and encounters a problem when someone backs into his car and busts a taillight or knocks off a side mirror.

“And the dealer says ‘I want 700 dollars.’ You know, the first thing you do is you Google it. We come up, maybe 150 bucks. And you’re like, ‘O.K.,’ then you have the video. You look at the video and you’re like, ‘O.K., I can do that.’

“And, you know,” Green said, snapping his fingers, “I just got a customer. Somebody who otherwise wouldn’t have done their own work, because we’ve empowered them with a video. That’s what government needs to do. It needs to empower the people. The American people can solve any issue, right? Sometimes government just gets in the way.”

One supporter, Ion Baleanu, 44, of Middleborough, drove more than 70 miles to come to the event. He can’t vote for Green because he doesn’t live in the district, but he plans to donate money to the campaign and help spread the word.

Baleen is a field service engineer who installs industrial laundry machines. He met Green at a Ted Cruz speech in Andover in 2015 in the run-up to the last presidential campaign. He and his family escaped Communist Romania when he was a child in the 1970s and came to the United States as refugees. He sees Green as a supporter of freedom.

“I think we need someone like him, that is fiscally responsible. But also that can stop the federal government from their continued overreach,” Baleanu said, citing Second Amendment gun rights as an example.

In an interview later, Green identified infrastructure, opioids, and veterans as the issues he wants to emphasize.

Government often lacks the sense of urgency that he has as an entrepreneur, he said, adding he would bring his skill at getting things done to Washington by identifying the right people and prodding them toward an efficient solution.

“The problem with the government is there’s no pressure to get from A to B, and that’s what I’m going to provide,” Green said.

Asked for examples, he pointed to substandard bridges in Massachusetts, particularly in the Merrimack Valley, as well as lingering road projects like the Concord Rotary.

“Every eight years they do a study, and yet it never gets done,” Green said. “… I’m going to fix the Concord Rotary.”

To treat opioid addiction and provide services for veterans and other social services, Green said, public officials should apply federalism instead of using a top-down approach. As much as possible, he said, government should be local, so that local government officials can figure out the best solutions in individual cases because they are close to people’s problems.

“The closer they are to the people, the more power they should have. The further away from the people they are, the less power they should have in the people’s day-to-day lives,” Green said. “… We’ve got to stop treating the problem, we’ve got to start treating the person.”

Massachusetts hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. House since 1994. The Merrimack Valley hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. House since 1972.

The seat was last open in 2007, before the most recent redistricting. The race then was somewhat competitive, with Niki Tsongas ultimately winning 51-45. But she has had no problem getting re-elected since then, garnering between 63 and 69 percent of the vote. Whoever emerges from the crowded Democratic field will be the favorite to win in November.

So how will Green break through?

“I’m uniquely qualified to get things done. Nobody else is going to be able to deliver on infrastructure, or quite honestly on opioids and veterans nearly as well as I can,” he said. “And we’re going to communicate that to the folks, and they’re going to agree with me.”

As a practical matter, he notes that as a Republican he would immediately have ties to leaders in Congress that Democrats don’t have, assuming Republicans keep the House.

“I’ll be the senior member of the majority party when I’m elected,” Green said.

Massachusetts Third Congressional District, 2018