Questrom Professor David Bedard Wants to Hear the Opposing View
David Bedard has held many titles throughout his life: research engineer, merger and acquisition banker, finance professor, Ironman triathlete, entrepreneur and two-time retiree. Now, Bedard can add another career to the list: political candidate.
At Boston University, Bedard is best known as a finance lecturer in the Questrom School of Business, but in his home state of New Hampshire, he has been running for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives since 2014.
In Hillsborough County, Bedard first challenged Democratic incumbent Jonathan Manley, losing by a 7.5 percent margin. Four years later, the race tightened, but two House seats were awarded to two other Democratic candidates.
Though Bedard has lost those two elections, he doesn’t seem to mind. As a professor and a politician, he just wants to hear what students and residents have to say.
“One of the most rewarding things about campaigning, and this holds true to why I like teaching so much, you get to meet people and talk about the issues that are important to them,” Bedard said. “You’re like, ‘Holy smokes, there’s so many interesting people out there who have interesting perspectives.’”
Those interesting perspectives flood BU’s campus both in and out of his classroom. Apart from his finance courses, Bedard advises the Young Americans for Freedom — a political action club which brought conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to campus last November. This month, YAF held a debate with BU’s Young Americans for Liberty, which Bedard said further encouraged civil political discussions.
Bedard prides himself on engaging with students by opening up his office and speaking with them about academics, future careers, and life outside of Questrom. Having graduated from BU with his MBA in 2000 and retiring in 2006 and again in 2012, Bedard began teaching in 2016, joining the workforce for a third time.
He acknowledges that his own career journey is not common, but that he enjoys working with students and supporting their academic pursuits.
“I do not have a typical path,” Bedard said. “I have, I think, a unique approach, since I’ve been in lots of different industries and can talk to my students about all sorts of things.”
Recently, Bedard spoke with a student in office hours who had a sticker of Sen. Bernie Sanders (V-I) on his laptop. Bedard said the sticker became a chance to politically engage with someone who ideologically opposed him.
While Bedard and the student didn’t set out to talk politics, Bedard brought up the subject, which turned out to be a “great conversation” and one that he found productive and enjoyable.
Bedard decided to run for office on this exact principle — understanding others’ beliefs, however different, and wanting to contribute as best he can. As a Republican, he said he is passionate about maintaining “traditional New Hampshire values:” supporting the wood industry, keeping income tax at zero percent, and creating jobs to boost the economy.
Plenty of people disagree with him, but they’re exactly who Bedard wishes to speak with most. He said he believes “the echo chamber is the downfall of not only our campus, but our society.”
“I have had conversations this past cycle with people who don’t like my viewpoint, and some of those are tough conversations, but I’m happy to have them when I need to,” Bedard said. “I need someone to have an opposing view, because if we’re all just saying the exact same thing, what have we turned into?”
In New Hampshire, the political landscape has changed in the last couple of weeks — in Republicans’ favor. On the state and local levels, Governor Chris Sununu (R) was re-elected and in the Senate and House of Representatives, Republicans gained seats and won the majority.
The national level was a different story. Despite these wins for NH Republicans, the state voted for President-Elect Joe Biden by a 7.3 percent margin, awarding their four electoral votes to him. Surrounding states in the Northeast did much the same, which is historically consistent — in most nationwide elections, states along the East Coast support Democratic candidates for president.
Since 2004, New Hampshire has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election, but Bedard maintains that New Hampshire is “traditionally a red state” when it comes to state congressmen.
“You either stand for something, or you stand for nothing,” Bedard said. “We all can’t be these milk toast types of leaders. You either stand up and take a position, or you don’t.”
When he first decided to run in 2014, Bedard knew he didn’t want to lead that way. A finance man by trade, Bedard has a laser sharp focus on economic reform in the state and considers himself closely aligned with the Republican political agenda.
And he’ll continue to run, with plans for another bid for State Rep. in 2022. He said serving in local government is the best way he can serve his community: “I’d like to give back to my country in a civic sense,” Bedard said. “Statewide politics is a way you can give back.”
Bedard maintains that he is getting “closer and closer and closer” to winning that seat. But even if he doesn’t, he’s sure to knock on plenty of doors and meet plenty of residents on the other side of the political spectrum. That’s a good thing.
“You need different viewpoints, and you cannot always agree on everything,” Bedard said. “If you think that, you’re a fool.”