Dr. Alliegro A Candidate For Ninth Congressional District
By: SAM HOUGHTON, March 11, 2014
Mark C. Alliegro, a Waquoit resident and Town Meeting member, will run for US Congress as a Republican candidate vying for William R. Keating’s seat in Massachusetts’s 9th congressional district.
“I look around me and see a great country in trouble,” Dr. Alliegro said. “Whether liberal, conservative, disheartened Democrats and Republicans, you don’t find many people happy with how things are run today. This is a wonderful country we live in, but we are truly in danger of losing our freedom.”
Dr. Alliegro moved to Falmouth in 2007 to work for the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and so he and his wife, Maryanne Alliegro, could be closer to her family. The two, who have been married for 32 years, live on Metoxit Road. They have two daughters, Nicole, 28, a broadcaster in the Boston area, and Kelley, 24, who is in the Navy and currently on the USS George H.W. Bush “heading to parts unknown,” as Dr. Alliegro said.
Dr. Alliegro is relatively new to politics, having worked as a cell biologist for more than 30 years. He is a senior scientist at the MBL, where he and his wife run the Alliegro Lab and study cell division. He teaches at Brown University, where he recently taught a graduate-level course on molecular and cellular biology.
However, he has temporarily put aside much of his work to make time for the campaign. He has raised funds from individual donors and through events, such as dinner parties. Speaking from Maryland after attending the Conservative Political Action Conference on Wednesday, Dr. Alliegro said that he works on the campaign seven days a week, from early morning until late at night.
His involvement in politics started a little over two years ago when he began The Upper Cape Tea Party, which began as a grassroots campaign with approximately 10 members. He said that the Tea Party often gets “smeared” by the media which portrays members as “anarchists” and “racist loonies.” But really, he said, the Upper Cape group “is a network of concerned people worried about this country, worried that we are taxed too much. These are your neighbors. They don’t have two heads but are sweet people that are well informed.”
The Upper Cape Tea Party has grown to approximately 170 members and meets monthly, Dr. Alliegro said.
While he is the founder of the group, he refers to himself as a Republican and says much of the problems he sees cross party lines. “Republicans make big mistakes and Democrats make big mistakes. Most of what Republicans stand for, I agree with, much less so than Democrats. I believe in the principles of Republicans.”
He understands the need to tax in order to pay for a defense budget or to study science and other benefits taxes pay for, but “it is how much do you spend and when” he said. “When people are suffering and without jobs and the country is in debt, you have to ease up on the reins a little bit.”
In education, Dr. Alliegro believes that the federal government should keep its distance. “Our curriculum should not be controlled by Washington, DC,” he said. “I like community control of schools. It belongs to the local districts, to the towns and to the villages.”
Since President Jimmy Carter created the US Department of Education, Dr. Alliegro said that education in the country has slowly declined. “A factual trend, since the federal government became involved in education, our system has been in a long, slow downward spiral in competition with other countries,” he said.
Common Core, he said, is a recent trend toward the federal government retaining more control. “What might work in Falmouth, might not work in Chicago,” he said.
He supports renewable energy initiatives when they are used responsibly, he said. “I’m an outdoorsman. I’m a hiker. A scuba diver. There’s nobody that has more respect for the outdoors than me. I grew up as an environmentalist.”
The Keystone Pipeline, a project he supports, is an example of how the environmental movement has shifted. “A vast majority of our fossil fuels are transported by pipeline. Pipeline transportation is cheaper, cleaner, and safer,” he said. “There is a mentality of stop our energy production at all costs, even if it doesn’t make a difference for jobs or to the environment.” Trucks and trains transporting fossil fuels are costly and dangerous compared to pipelines, he said.
As an example of pushing green initiatives too hard, Dr. Alliegro pointed to wind turbines. “If you live in Idaho and want to set up a wind turbine, that’s great. But they don’t belong as an eyesore on Nantucket Sound or in our neighbor’s back yard,” he said. “I would explore all options,” he said.
He has a hard time believing the notion that it would cost $25 million to take them down. He said he was not sure of the costs, but he believes someone would come to take them away for their own use at a much cheaper cost.
The notion that global warming is man-made, he said, is a sham. “If Mars is warming and Jupiter is warming and there are indications that Pluto is warming, the earth’s temperature rising cannot be due to SUVs or farm runoff. The bottom line is that there is no credible evidence that man is causing it.” Not long ago, he said, scientists believed the Earth was cooling. The climate has always been changing and it will continue to change, he said.
“In some parts of the planet, the sea level is rising, but in other places in the world, it is dropping,” he said. “That is a fact.”
Dr. Alliegro grew up in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn, where his mother taught him how to treat others the way he wanted to be treated. Often, he said, Tea Party members are regarded as racist. This is far from the truth he said. He grew up with blacks, Jews, Italians and members of other ethnic groups. “When I look at a person, I don’t look at the color of their skin. I look at their heart and I don’t care if they are black, white or green.”