It was the most tragic loss in his life that has pushed Dr. Gerry Dembrowski onward towards what would be his biggest win.
Dembrowski, a Woburn Republican challenging for the 7th Congressional seat, told the Journal that he lost his wife this February to breast cancer, and it was her final words that kept him in the race against 34-year veteran Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden).
"We were watching them discuss the new health care bill on TV and they were talking about quality of life and other issues and she just looked at me and, after fighting breast cancer for seven years, she asked me what all of it meant for her [treatment and fight against cancer]," he said. "I had no answers for her. On her death bed, she said, ‘Gerry, you have to continue fighting for this.’ If she hadn’t said that to me I would have faded off into the sunset, dropped the campaign and gone off to deal with the grief. I held her right hand when we got married and I held that same hand when she took her last breath, and she told me to keep fighting for us."
Dembrowski has taken his wife’s last wish and run with it, putting forth a campaign in a district that hasn’t seen a campaign in a long time.
The 48-year-old chiropractic doctor from Woburn was born in Cambridge and has spent the last 41 years in Woburn, running a chiropractic business there for the last 12 years.
He graduated from Salem State College after attending Woburn Public Schools. He also graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic in California, starting his own practice not long after.
Like many first-time candidates this election cycle, Dembrowski originally put his business on hold and entered the political arena out of frustration with the current government.
"Originally, before my wife passed away, this all started with the same things as a lot of people," he said. "I got sick and tired of yelling at the TV and wondering who was going to be next on TV shoving a bribe in their bra or their underwear or whatever else."
Now, however, Dembrowski’s campaign has focused on Markey’s record and the general frustration of voters in the electorate.
"I’m for smaller government, but also intelligent government," he said. "The main issue is to get the country back on track. There should be a moratorium on any tax increase no matter what. Put on a moratorium. We can’t afford it. We need to stop the crazy earmark spending – especially Markey and his $60 million Stimulus donation to the [Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate]. That stuff can’t continue."
He also said that he would favor taking action on extending the Bush-era tax credits in order to help middle- and low-income families. The credits are due to expire in January.
"Millions of either middle-income or low-income families are going to be devastated in January by them not doing something about these tax cuts," said Dembrowski. "Come Jan. 1, everyone’s taxes will increase, thanks to Markey and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi. I favor a moratorium on any tax increase during this fragile economic recovery. We cannot afford the fraud and waste from the stimulus package."
Dembrowski also addressed the fact that he has been accused of wanting to slash Medicare and Social Security – something he said he has never said and is not included in any of his literature.
"All these problems have happened under Markey’s watch for 34 years and he has the gall to stand up and say I am going to cut Medicare and Social Security," said Dembrowski. "My parents are on Social Security. Why would I do that? I have never proposed that."
He said it is just a talking point provided by the national Democratic Party.
"The only slashing of Social Security and Medicare is by Ed Markey and Nancy Pelosi," he continued. "They give themselves a big raise while Social Security payments are frozen for the second year in a row. Medicare has been slashed by $700 million and more seniors rely on food stamps."
In conclusion, he said he would continue to fight hard for his wife and the district until November 2.
"Markey has had 34 years to sort out Social Security and health care and look what we end up with, nearly $112 trillion in unfunded liabilities and a 2,500 page health care bill that he’s never read…The best he can do is put out cap and trade – his signature legislation – that brings about nothing but slashed jobs and skyrocketing energy costs in a time when families are just making it day by day."