By Stephanie Ebbert / The Boston Globe
August 23, 2019
Hélène Vincent had managed to keep a straight face and a cool head while presenting her candidacy for Boston City Council to a man who answered the door in his underwear.
He wasn’t her first pantsless voter — not even that day — and she felt she’d made a good pitch. What deflated her was his response to her question: “Can I count on your vote?”
“Yes,” the 77-year-old told her, “if no one knocks on the door who’s more attractive.”
“After all of this conversation, he’s just going to make a comment on my appearance?” Vincent asked in an interview, recalling the exchange. “It makes you feel pathetic when you are trying so hard.”
Her unusual candor brought online encouragement from the public, and even some of her rivals in the District 8 Council race. Fellow candidate Kenzie Bok responded on Twitter with the hashtag message #solidarity. Competitor Jennifer Nassour texted Vincent directly with encouragement, praising her hard work and smarts and urging her to keep going.
Nassour has been there. When she was chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, some of her own members nicknamed her “Party Chair Barbie.”
“I got it from all sides – from women and from men — the sexism,” Nassour said in an interview. Women like Nassour — who’s particularly fit and notes on her campaign website that she works out five times a week — often field “compliments” from people who make clear they can’t stop looking at her body.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Ooh, I love your legs, I wish I had legs like that,’ ” she said. “Both women and men. You’re just like, ‘Are you for real?’ ”
Nassour, who previously worked for ReflectUS, a coalition of political groups working to increase women’s elective representation, wants female candidates “to feel like there are other women who have their back, especially those of us who have been through it before,” she said. “I don’t think it’s supposed to be a bloodsport.”
Nassour, Vincent, and Bok are competing in a crowded field, along with Montez David Haywood, Landon Lemoine, and Kristen Mobilia, for the District Eight council seat of outgoing Councilor Josh Zakim. The top two vote-getters in the Sept. 24 preliminary election will appear on the general election ballot Nov. 5.
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