Person of Interest: Kirsten Hughes

By Tanya Pai | Boston Magazine |

GROWING UP, Kirsten Hughes had two loves: musicals and Ronald Reagan. The former she inherited from her mother, the latter from great-aunts — and by age 12 she wasn’t just singing showtunes, she was stuffing envelopes for former Governor Bill Weld’s campaign. Today, at 34, the trained lawyer continues to multitask, serving as the fundraising coordinator for Senator Scott Brown’s campaign while making her own push for public office. One of the first young members of Brown’s organization to blaze her own trail, Hughes is running for city council in her native Quincy.

While Brown remains popular, his stances (or lack thereof) on some issues have earned him plenty of liberal critics, who will no doubt be discomfited by the fact that his influence is now spreading throughout the Massachusetts political system. Hughes, though, says her main priorities are simply to ensure that some long-promised Quincy neighborhood-redevelopment efforts are carried out, and to be available and responsive to her constituents.

Sound politics, it seems. Which is not to say that Hughes, who has a degree in theater arts from New York University (her Ronald Reagan Library sweatshirts didn’t go over so well there) has turned her back on her other passion. When she’s not campaigning, you’ll find her moonlighting nights and weekends as a singing waitress at West Quincy’s Common Market Café. She occasionally participates in community musicals, too, and used to hit the stages around Boston with a cover band called Velvet Krush. Her most unusual gig? Playing Ariel for a year in the Walt Disney World show Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

Hughes believes all that Disney fin-flipping will be an asset on the campaign trail. “People always say it’s such a stretch going from acting to politics,” she says. “But the way I see it, they’re both about finding how to solve the problem on the page — coming up with solutions that are innovative and may not always be the obvious choice.”