Jersey City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis met one of his idols tonight.
Among the familiar faces milling about the crowd in the Massachusetts delegation, seated just behind New Jersey, was a former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who almost exactly 20 years ago took the podium himself.
Matsikoudis greeted him in Greek.
“It was the first election that really grabbed me and got me hooked on politics. I was inspired for a couple reasons – one it was the first time I paid attention to the issues, and I just found him to be on the smart side of the issues,” said Matsikoudis, 37. “And of course as a Greek American, I was also moved by his candidacy.”
But Matsikoudis, at the time just shy of his 18th birthday, couldn’t vote in that election. The two did meet once before, but only briefly, and it was 12 years ago. Tonight they talked for 15 minutes.
While the lasting image of Dukakis has been him awkwardly posing on top of a tank, Matsikoudis said that the nation is just now catching up with the policies the former candidate outlined 20 years ago. The two went on to discuss Amtrak and the economic success of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, Matsikoudis said.
“I think what was most interesting about the conversation was that one of his strongest issues that I believe so strongly in is infrastructure and mass transit, and how everyone didn’t listen to him for 20 years, and now we’re seeing with our reliance on foreign oil and rising gas prices everyone wants to live near mass transit,” he said.