Ocasio-Cortez comes to town and explains why a local election matters

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a rally for Brookline select board candidate Raul Fernandez at the First Parish Church in Brookline on Saturday. –Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

She’s a national lightning rod and genuine political phenomenon of the emerging left wing of the Democratic Party. But can she influence a local election? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to town Saturday — make that the Town of Brookline — to support a friend seeking to join the Select Board.

The charismatic new congresswoman from the Bronx, who stunned American politics last year by beating a 10-term Democratic incumbent, is endorsing Raul Fernandez. It was Ocasio-Cortez’s first endorsement in a hyper-local race.

A superstar ponders the social justice of local zoning regulations? You could call her visit simply an act of loyalty. Yet there was another level of meaning to support Fernandez, who’s also from the Bronx and a friend from her Boston University days. The message is that micro-local political engagement really counts, even in a liberal bastion like Brookline. Grassroots work is one major reason why Ocasio-Cortez is where she is today.