Dartmouth native running for Bristol, Norfolk County state senate seat

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 02, 2017
Left, Ventura as an eighth grader. Source: 2001 Dartmouth Middle School yearbook; right, Ventura's campaign photo. Photo courtesy: Jacob Ventura

Dartmouth High Class of 2005 graduate Jacob Ventura, has announced his campaign to represent Bristol and Norfolk counties in the state senate. The Republican candidate is running to replace former Senator James E. Timilty, a Democrat from Walpole.

While the position would be the now Attleboro resident’s first time in office, he’s pulling lessons from his hometown to ensure his success.

The Dartmouth native was a drum major, who also played trumpet on the side. During his time with the school marching band, he conducted, was student leader, and secured two championships.

“That was one of the best programs in Dartmouth in terms of teaching kids dedication, long hours. They’re traits I hope to carry into my campaign,” he said via phone.

Ventura, 30, recalled playing baseball, basketball, and football at Crapo Field, and spending summers at Round Hill Beach with friends.

“Like every other high schooler, we spent a lot of time at Dartmouth Mall on Friday nights,” laughed Ventura.

Following high school, Ventura commuted from his Stephen Street home to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where the finance major was involved in the College Republicans club, and Students in Free Enterprise — a philanthropic business association that did volunteer projects for both local and international businesses.

“College Republicans opened up doors to a network that’s national. I was able to travel the country for a lot of candidates,” Ventura said, naming Scott Brown, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.

Ventura is now an attorney, having received a Juris Doctorate from Virginia-based Washington and Lee University School of Law last year.

Ventura’s interest in politics stemmed from early conversations with his great uncle, Carlos Ventura, who was both a school teacher, and on the School Committee, Ventura said.

“Most people in Dartmouth recognize my last name probably because of him,” Ventura said. “He is someone who got me on that public service mindset.”

While Ventura also inherited his Wampanoag, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean heritage from his family, he did not inherit their political views. “My family leans more Democrat. I’m sort of a black sheep,” he said.

Ventura recalled how former history teacher — now middle school assistant principal — Carl Robidoux had asked his eighth grade students to fill in who they’d vote for in the 2000 presidential election for extra credit on an exam. Ventura wrote “Al Gore.”

“I wrote it without really thinking about it. I always just assumed Democrat was the way to go,” he said. But that sparked weeks of research, through which Ventura concluded that he actually shared more views with the Republican party.

While Ventura now supports budget and ethics reform, veterans, seniors, lower taxes, and the arts in his campaign, he’s also a firm believe in bipartisan action, he said.

“I truly believe that in reaching across the aisle and talking with people, regardless of party affiliation,” Ventura said.

Ventura boasts experience representing Dartmouth’s Precinct No. 6 for two terms as a Town Meeting member, managing Attorney Joe Michaud’s 2010 state representative reelection campaign (which was lost to Chris Markey, D-Dartmouth), working in the State House with Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) for more than two years, and meeting a then newly-elected state Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) as a DeMello Elementary third grader (Mrs. Bowie’s class, 1994, Ventura recalled).

The state senate seat coveted by Ventura is currently vacant, and has been since April 28, when Timilty resigned to become Norfolk County treasurer. A special election has been called for October 17; the primary election will be held on September 19.

Also running for the position are Michael Berry, a Republican from Walpole; and Democratic candidates Paul Feeney (Foxboro), Ted Philips (Sharon), and Joe Shortsleeve (Medfield).

The Bristol and Norfolk Districts represent Precinct 3B and Wards 4-6 in the city of Attleboro, the towns of Seekonk, Rehoboth, Norton, and Mansfield in Bristol County, and the towns of Foxboro, Medfield, Precincts 1, 4, and 5 in Sharon, and Walpole in Norfolk County.

The elected official would assume office in January 2018. The state senator position is a two-year term, with no term limits.

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