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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Len Gerzon ’80 runs for New Hampshire State Representative

Published: October 5, 2012
Section: News

Brandeis alum Len Gerzon ’80 is running for a seat as a State Representative in the New Hampshire legislature. Gerzon is running as a Democrat, against Republican Laurie Sanborn, who has served as the deputy assistant majority leader in the State House of Representatives. Both Gerzon and Sanborn ran unopposed in their primary elections on Sept. 11. Gerzon’s district has elected a Republican in every election since 1934, according to a Brandeis University Alumni Association article.

While at Brandeis, Gerzon was active on campus, including having co-founded a magazine called the “Sherman Grease Trap,” which was designed to give a voice to the students who worked in the Sherman dining hall. Gerzon graduated from Brandeis in 1980 with a degree in economics, and then proceeded to attend and graduate Suffolk University with an MBA.

Still, Gerzon feels he has a good chance of being elected. Gerzon said Laurie Sanborn and her husband had only rented property in their district months before the election, which allowed her to run and win the seat. “This is ridiculous,” Gerzon said, “and I have a chance to win because my opponents are being so blatant about this ‘outsourcing of representation’ that they are engaging in.”

This race is also unique in the sense that the district represents roughly 33,000 people—around 10 times the average of 3,200 found in most New Hampshire districts. This is due in part to a re-districting that occurred in 2010, when the Republican and Tea Party majority passed legislation that altered the state’s district setup.

When asked why he wanted to run for State Representative, Gerzon said that he felt “there is a real need for people to step forward and run for office, and I feel like I am able to answer that call.”

Gerzon is a strong advocate for bipartisan cooperation. He said he has been “recognized by Republican leaders as a person they want to work with,” and that his campaign has even garnered a solid base of Republican support. According to his website, “in order to resolve the complex issues of our state, [the legislature] must have thoughtful discourse, and … must be willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, without judgment or negative rhetoric.”

Gerzon calls himself a hybrid candidate, meaning that he can “flip from seeing issues on a liberal Republican viewpoint to a conservative Democratic viewpoint.” He also said that he was running a “more centrist campaign,” because “policy should be the product of where people meet and agree, not where party leadership says it should come from.”

He is concerned about the rise of the Tea Party in New Hampshire. The Tea Party currently holds over a third of the seats in its legislature, which is enough to veto legislation proposed by Democratic governor John Lynch. This dominance enables the Tea Party to put forth policies that “fly in the face of what I believe is good policy,” according to Gerzon. These policies include making gun laws incredibly lax and altering women’s rights. He went on to say that the Tea Party “wants to put women in a [social] place where they were in 1850 … as can be seen by their stances on abortion rights and domestic violence, among others.”

Gerzon said he was inspired by Brandeis’ motto: “Truth, even unto its innermost parts.” According to him, this prompted him to constantly “try to keep my open mind” with regard to politics, and to accept the viewpoints of others.

Both of Gerzon’s parents are Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the U.S. in 1951. His father then started a successful photography business in Boston from nothing, where Gerzon worked alongside him starting at age 12, just like his brother and two sisters.

Gerzon has worked for the past 27 years at Public Service of New Hampshire, where he worked with property taxes and has served as a consultant. He has also formerly worked as a property tax consultant to various cities and towns.

Both Gerzon and his wife Nancy have been taxpayers in Bedford and Amherst for 25 years, according to his campaign website. He has also been involved in many volunteer activities and served on numerous local and elected boards in Amherst, where they currently reside, and Bedford, in order to “improve the quality of life” in these towns.