That is the number that separated Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen from winner Eric Lesser in the Democratic Primary Race in the 1st Hampden and Hampshire District, for State Senate. It was an excruciating defeat for a seasoned Springfield native who has close ties to Springfield College.
Allen is an adjunct professor of Business at Springfield College, and from roughly February until late on September 9, Allen was balancing time between his obligations as a professor and networking himself for the race.
“It was challenging for sure,” said Allen. “Thankfully, the hardest part was after classes in the summer, and that is when I really devoted my time to the election. From February until I reported grades in May, [campaigning] was usually just a weekend thing.”
Laughing, Allen added, “If I had won, I don’t know when I would sleep.”
Allen is no stranger to business, politics or Western Massachusetts. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at Springfield, he also teaches at Elms College. For 27 years, Allen worked in the IT department at MassMutual until he was promoted to Vice President of the department. In 2009, Allen tried his hand at politics, running for city council (and winning with 70 percent of the vote) in Ward 7 of Springfield, where he serves to this day.
Allen is the epitome of resilient, and despite the loss, he is still eager to focus back on Springfield and continue to find ways to improve the community.
“I feel like I have just as much opportunity to impact the world positively; it is just going to be focused on Springfield,” he said.
And the true testament to Allen’s character is the way he recovered from the race and realized it was not the end of the world. Former basketball coach Morgan Wooten is remembered for saying, “You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.”
Allen is not only learning how to keep going, he is going.
Roughly eight hours after the results showed the pain-staking outcome, Allen was back in Locklin Hall that Wednesday day morning at Springfield College, ready to teach his 8 a.m. Introduction to Business Class.
That is how Allen is, though—a seemingly rare breed in this day in age that sees the bigger picture, and it does not go unnoticed.
“[He] puts purpose behind every lecture to have it be applicable to life. He makes it a point to know our names not only for inside the classroom, but outside the classroom too,” said Junior Christie Idiong, a former student of Allen’s.
While Springfield has a bad reputation to some, that would be impossible to guess when looking at Tim Allen, who clearly loves the city.
There are few people who devote more time to their community than him. Allen has helped in a business, political and educational form all to make the city he loves better. And it has meant balancing all of those things sometimes at once. Springfield has provided him with many peaks and va leys, but that has yet to stop him from always going back to making Springfield better, until it is all peaks.
“I just took a negative and made it positive,” Allen said. He plans on doing that by using his focused attention to teaching and making Ward 7 and the rest of Springfield as promising as it can be.
In regards to the narrow loss, Allen responds not with blame, but a lesson. “This just goes to show how much participation matters. I lost by 198 votes… Democracy is the highest form of government, but it needs participation,” he said.
It is a lesson that has been taught before, but not necessarily implemented.
Those who have had Tim Allen in their lives, be it personally, through MassMutual, Ward 7, or area colleges, knows the kind of individual he is. He is a homegrown product and an advocate for Springfield, but the result of the election is far from a testament of the value of Tim Allen. He is still present on campus, with a smile on his face and a willingness to talk, and though he may have reached a slight setback, this will not be the last time he makes an impact.