In the redrawn 8th Congressional District, two first-time Republican candidates are competing for the right to take on US Representative Stephen Lynch. Joe Selvaggi of Boston is a former software engineer, as well as a Navy veteran who served in the Mediterranean during the first Gulf War. But it is his experience as a small businessman, he says, that persuaded him to get involved in politics.
Selvaggi is the owner of Plaster Fun Time, a chain of drop-in art centers for kids that he co-founded in 1995. The high-energy, high-volume company, which hosts thousands of children’s parties per year, turned into a commercial success. It also turned into a catalyst for Selvaggi’s interest in politics, providing insight into what it takes to grow a small business, and into the way government policies — on taxes, regulations, health care — directly affect entrepreneurs in the real world. A quest to better understand policymaking led him to the Kennedy School at Harvard, where he recently completed a master’s degree in public administration.
A fiscal conservative and self-described “free-markets guy,” Selvaggi says his top priority in Washington would be to reduce the federal debt and drastically simplify the tax code. Similar priorities are mentioned by the other Republican in the race, Matt Temperley, an immigrant from Argentina who enlisted in the Army and became a US citizen while serving two tours of duty in Iraq. Temperley’s initiative and commitment are admirable. But he lacks the breadth of experience brought to the race by Selvaggi, whom the Globe is pleased to endorse.