Madeline Mavros might be the best example of someone who threw her proverbial hat into the ring and became a political staple of sorts in Lynn politics.
Opinion

Jourgensen: I miss Madeline, Renee and Glenn

It's a local election year and any politician will tell you no one is thinking about politics or elections in July. Incumbents and other political aspirants shake a few hands and eat a hot dog or two on July 3rd and 4th but no serious campaigning happens until after Labor Day. 

With that observation in mind, I still wax nostalgic when I think back to people who ran for office in Lynn knowing they were, at best, long shots. They embraced democracy at its core by running for public office even though pundits — politicians as well as the press — dismissed them as fringe candidates. 

Madeline Mavros might be the best example of someone who threw her proverbial hat into the ring and became a political staple of sorts in Lynn politics. Her 1999 obituary described Mavros' debut run for School Committee in 1975 and went on to run in every municipal election until 1989, although she announced in 1990 she would seek a seat in the 1991 election. 

Mavros took an unvarnished approach to campaigning and summed up Lynn's challenges pretty succinctly. A 1975 Daily Evening Item interview found her talking about school needs that are as important today as they were 44 years ago. 

She called for initiatives to "strengthen the preschool educational programs" and urged more attention on student nutrition. If elected, said Mavros, "I will see that things are done."

As political proclamations go, that's a pretty basic message to deliver to the voters and part of Mavros' appeal is that she talked in basic terms about how she wanted to be in elected office to see if she could make a difference.

She told Ward 5 voters in 1981 that she would serve them "to the very best of my ability." She did not change her tune on the eve of her final run when she announced yet another bid for the Ward 5 seat, saying, "I am interested in my ward and the constituents living there …"

Glenn Donovan is another memorable candidate from the 1990s who strung together a three year-long political career that spanned runs for council and a bid for West Lynn state representative. No stranger to politics, Donovan's father, George, once represented Ward 1. If Mavros carved out a niche as a plain-spoken candidate, Donovan made it clear to anyone who would listen that he had plenty to say on plenty of issues. Strident in tone and insistent in demeanor, he fought what he saw as a near-constant attempt by the city to squeeze parking meter revenue out of downtown shoppers. He advocated for city department head salary cuts and urged construction of a Lynn "megaplex" he claimed could create 1,500 jobs.

Long after abandoning political aspirations, Donovan still enjoyed roping me into a conversation about politics and mildly berating me for not ensuring all of his ideas found their way into newsprint. I miss him. 

No reminiscence about memorable but marginal local political figures is complete without mentioning Renee Maroskos. The best word to describe Maroskos is indefatigable. 

The owner of the former J. Maroskos & Co. store on Commercial and Summer streets, Maroskos couldn't have cared less in 1993 if you told her she had absolutely zero chance to win a mayoral election pitting former Mayor Patrick J. McManus and former Councilor-at-large Joseph E. Scanlon. 

But Maroskos ran with a spirit of determination and drive that, by turns, seemed baffling and admirable. She seemed to really care about Lynn and no obstacle — not even the election night eve accident that sent a van careening into her store — could stop Maroskos.

The collision pinned her against a wall resulting in catastrophic leg injuries. It killed a Lynnfield man, injured his wife and resulted in the arrest of a four-time convicted drunk driver who, prosecutors said, "fell through the cracks of the judicial system."

She got 46 write-in votes for mayor. 

Maroskos never griped or bemoaned her fate. Hospitalized for months and a survivor of not only the accident but several surgeries, she reopened her store two years after the accident. Still hobbled by her injuries, she boarded a plane and flew to Oklahoma in June 1995 to salute people who responded to the terrorist bombing in the city that occurred two months earlier. 

"When I saw how everybody responded to my small accident I knew I had to do something," she said.

Thor Jourgensen is Editorial Page Editor. He can be reached at [email protected]

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