Around New England

Socially Liberal Republican Running for Boston City Council

May 8, 2019

A former chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party is running for a Boston City Council seat that includes the Back Bay.

Jennifer Nassour, 47, originally from Long Island in New York, got hooked on politics during college, switching her major to political science from the pre-medicine plans she previously had.

“I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to save the world. So then I decided to save the world as a politician,” Nassour told The Boston Globe in April 2010.

She helped research and draft a restaurant smoking ban while working for the Nassau County legislature on Long Island during the 1990s, according to the Boston Globe.

She moved to Massachusetts in 2000 after graduating from law school.

Published reports refer to her husband, whose grandmother is Marie Parente, a socially conservative pro-life Democrat who represented Milford as a state representative from 1983 to 2007. Nassour’s campaign web site says she lives in the Back Bay with her three daughters, but does not mention her husband. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2009 Nassour was elected chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party. She resigned in 2011, while she was pregnant with her third daughter. She has lived in the Back Bay of Boston since 2011.

At the end of her long career, Parente was targeted by supporters of same-sex marriage, who helped defeat her in the 2006 election.

Nassour has a different approach.

“I describe myself as a social progressive and fiscal conservative.  I’m pro-choice, pro-women, I am committed to equality and fight passionately for the causes I believe in,” Nassour says on her campaign web site.

In 2013 she signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court did that in June 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Nassour is running for the District 8 seat on the Boston City Council currently held by Josh Zakim, a Democrat who is not running for re-election.

District 8 includes the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Kenmore Square, Mission Hill, Audubon Circle, and the West End. They are among the most left-leaning neighborhoods in left-leaning Boston.

Boston’s local elections are nonpartisan, meaning candidates do not formally represent a political party when they run.

Nassour’s campaign biography does not mention her service as GOP chairman or even the word “Republican.” It does mention the word “Democrat” – referring to her grandmother as “a union Democrat in New York as a seamstress.”