Thirty years ago, Helene Solomon was a fresh Boston transplant, her voice still thick with a New York City accent. She was living in Allston/Brighton and working in Mayor Kevin White’s administration.
Boston was just making the change to electing most of the City Council from districts, instead of citywide. All of a sudden, Solomon’s neighbors were knocking on her door, asking for her vote in the district election.
“I thought, I’m just as good and smart and passionate as these guys,” Solomon, now 60, recalled. “Why don’t I run for office?”
She did, becoming the only woman candidate in an eight-person field. Her goal, Solomon said, was to eke out a second-place finish in the primaries, then move on to the general election.
“We didn’t want to come in first and upset all the guys,” she said.
Her plan didn’t work. She won the primary, but narrowly lost the general election.
Still, Solomon said, her campaign was “the seminal experience” of her career. “It provided me with the fire and the fuel that enabled me to have the business I have today,” Solomon said.
Solomon’s decision to run 30 years ago was purely instinctual, she said, and it taught her to trust her gut. She learned to listen to people, she said, a skill that is invaluable in her PR business today.
It also gave her the confidence to take risks. This year, as her company celebrates its 10th anniversary, Solomon is opening a new branch of Solomon McCown in New York — the company’s first expansion outside Boston.
Solomon said this decision was instinctual, much like her decision to run for office years ago.
Her campaign poster still hangs in her downtown Boston office with harbor views.