Taking on the Status Quo: Lalig Musserian Makes Her Case for State Rep.

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By Thomas C . Nash
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

BELMONT, Mass. — Sitting in a coffee shop on Belmont’s quiet main drag last week, Lalig Musserian greeted what seemed like every other person who came through the door with a warm smile and a wave. Like her neighbors, at first glance she seemed like any other urban professional on a coffee run. Hermuted demeanor gave her assessment of why she needed to take on a popular incumbent in a state representative race a matter-of-fact urgency.

“Ninety percent of our legislature are Democrats,” she said. “It’s a single-party state. I’m the candidate who is more concerned about the economic health our state. My premise is fiscal responsibility.”

“That is not Tea Party rhetoric,” she added, deflecting a recent barb thrown her way by the incumbent’s campaign. “It’s common sense.”

Musserian, 47, appears flustered at being lumped in with a national conservative movement known more for Sarah Palin than fiscal conservatism. Her platform, she says, comes from her experience in the field of project management, where maintaining a balanced account is critical.

“It’s not that we don’t have enough tax revenue,” she added. “We don’t spend it effectively.”

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Musserian, a program manager at a software company, said the most recent budget crisis helped push her to test the waters — while maintaining that before announcing her candidacy in July she’s stacked up years of experience in volunteer work. She’s chaired schools boards at St. Sahag and St. Mesrob and served as president of a non-profit for project managers, while also staying active with St. James Armenian Church in Watertown.

The bug finally took hold while attending the Genocide commemoration at the State House in April, recalling that after filing out into the Great Hall, “I got this feeling that this is the time.”

In deciding to face off against Will Brownsberger, a Democrat first elected in 2006 and re-elected unopposed in 2008, Musserian said she chose to run as an independent to escape the charged nature of the two political parties.

“People focus too much on the party,” she explained. “I’ve always voted for the person who would do the best job. Being an independent gives you the ability to do that.”

The 24th Middlesex District includes Belmont, Precincts 2 and 4 in Arlington and North Cambridge. While the Armenian presence is not as strong as that of Watertown, where she moved with her family in 1975 after fleeing the civil war in Lebanon, Musserian said she is still counting on the community to help her campaign, which she said is financially “on track” but trailing Brownsberger.

“It’s a bloc that I’m counting on,” she said. “What the Armenian community [outside the district] can do more is help me financially, and tell their friends.”

Musserian will debate Brownsberger at an event hosted by the Belmont League of Women voters on October 19. In the meantime, she plans on continuing her campaign throughout the district, where she’s been handing out cards and shaking hands while also collecting supporters on Facebook.

“We have to have the courage to challenge the status quo,” she said. “My message is: Think about what’s important to you, where you haven’t been heard, and then vote.”

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