There is a new way to win elections these days, and it's the old-fashioned way: wearing out your shoes while knocking on doors. "People like to be asked" for their vote, a lesson learned by Massachusetts political legend Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, the powerful five-term Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives during the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

According to the 1987 Random House book Man of the House: The Life & Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill, O'Neill lost only one election in his political life, the first one. O'Neill, a Democrat, said he just assumed his friends and neighbors would vote for him for the state legislature in 1934 but was quickly reminded by a neighbor that folks appreciate it when candidates ask for their vote. That was a lesson O'Neill, first elected to the U.S. House in 1952, never forgot.

Many politicians, particularly those who have been in office for a while, tend to take voters for granted. An incumbent might assume that his base will be there for him. Newcomers sometimes think that voters will back them simply because they are not the incumbent.

Voters like to to be asked for their support, and they want to be listened to in order to get it. That was true when Tip O'Neill ran for the Massachusetts legislature and lost in 1934, and it is still true today.

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Ryan Pereira, a 24-year-old 2015 graduate of New Bedford High School, studied Business Management at UMass Dartmouth, has worked at the family business Precision Window and Kitchen since he was a young teenager. He understands what it takes to win an election. Pereira walked the streets of Ward 6, listening to the concerns of the people in the neighborhoods, and asked for their support – and they responded by taking a chance on him.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media
Joe Lopes Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

Pereira's hard work paid off as he defeated longtime and popular Ward 6 City Councilor – and current council president – Joe Lopes. It wasn't even close.

Pereira has earned an opportunity to prove himself. He did so by earning the trust of an electorate apparently wary of the status quo. I hope Pereira doesn't forget this election, what it took to win, and the trust placed in him by the people of his district.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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