I never really understood my father's politics. Dad and I seemed to differ quite a bit politically, though I suspect we might agree on more today than I imagined years ago.

My father grew up in a different day and age when if you needed something – a job, perhaps – you asked a local politician for help. Maybe you needed help cutting through the red tape in the growing bureaucratic government nightmare.

Politics was about constituent service, delivering for the people that got you elected to office, but the assistance came with a price. It meant that come election day, you held a sign at the polls or bought a ticket to a "time" being held to raise campaign funds for the politician that helped you out.

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There was nothing illegal or even unethical about it. It was how local politics worked and still does to some degree. It was all about constituent service. As Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill said, "All politics is local."

One of the better "old school" politicians to serve our area died recently.

Melvin Earle Gaudette was a man of the people. He served 22 years on the Fall River City Council, representing the Maplewood neighborhood. As longtime president of the Maplewood Neighborhood Association, many regarded Gaudette as the "Mayor of Maplewood."

Gaudette served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and then the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

A proud B.M.C. Durfee High School graduate, Gaudette was a Bristol County Commissioner for 16 years.

He was one of my dad's local political heroes.

I got to know Gaudette as a young news reporter in the area, and as a local talk show host, I valued his input as a regular caller to my radio programs over the years. Earle Gaudette was no stranger to listeners of WBSM.

Melvin Earle Gaudette died on June 22, 2024. He was 92. He was one of the good ones.

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