Former candidate Mihos battles cancer
It comes as no surprise to those who know Christy Mihos, that even as he battles two types of cancer, the 2006 dark horse candidate for governor considers himself "the luckiest guy in the world."
"Cancer's been a gift. It puts everything in perspective," Mihos says. "Every day I wake up, every day I have is just a blessing...I've lived a pretty good life."
In a recent interview, Mihos said he is being treated for skin and prostate cancer. Although he declined to give any more details about his condition, he appeared to be in good physical shape and high spirits.
The positive attitude is a constant in the life of the wealthy businessman, who kept his grin while going toe-to-toe with some of Massachusetts' most powerful politicians.
"Absolutely, I got my toughness from Brockton," Mihos said. "That's the Brockton spirit."
Since serving as Brockton High class president in 1967, Mihos has craved a career in politics. But as a maverick public servant, he could never match the success of his convenience store empire.
Mihos, 58, still runs the pared Christy's convenience store chain. In his free time, he's writing a book due out by Christmas on his perspective of the Big Dig.
From 1999 to 2004, Mihos had a front-row seat to the controversial project, serving as vice president and later director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
Unhappy with Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the company that oversaw the $14 billion project, Mihos and Turnpike Authority Vice Chairman Jordan Levy started interviewing new firms to take over the project in late 2001.
In 2002, Gov. Jane Swift fired Mihos and Levy after they voted to postpone a toll hike on the turnpike. Mihos said that was just the excuse; Swift wasn't going to cut ties with Bechtel.
After an eight-month legal battle, Mihos got his job back in a settlement that went as far as the state Supreme Judicial Court.
The process took its toll and Mihos spent four times as much on lawyers as the $200,000 settlement he won.
After winning his job back, Mihos had to work with people he'd fought in court.
"It was an awful, awful situation," Mihos said. "I lost my office, I lost my phone and no one would talk to me."
After completing his term with the Turnpike Authority, Mihos turned his recognition into a run for governor. As an independent, Mihos, a fiscal conservative with near-Libertarian social views, took on Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and Deval Patrick.
"It was a great time to run for office," Mihos said.
Although Massachusetts has never had an independent governor, Mihos believed he could win. In early polls, he was supported by 24 percent of voters. He thought 36 percent would be enough.
Mihos got 7 percent of the actual vote.
"It wasn't my time," Mihos said. "Running was so worthwhile...The exchange of ideas, the ability to speak on an issue that makes a difference in people's lives. I enjoyed every minute of it."
Mark Lawton, a lifelong friend, said Mihos has always had a strong social conscience. Lawton met Mihos in eighth grade and served alongside him as vice president of the Stonehill College Student Senate, where Mihos was president.
When Lawton worked to establish the Brockton Boys & Girls Club, Mihos wrote the first check.
"Christy has always had a strong awareness of his obligation to help others," Lawton said. "He's just so appreciative of all of the gifts he has been given."
Mihos may be a Samaritan, but he's also a fighter - not just with political opponents.
He pointedly said he does not have a "personal relationship" with his siblings anymore.
In 2006, his brother and sister donated to Healey's campaign fund.
During the campaign, Mihos' sister blasted him in the Boston Herald for claiming he was a self-made man and failing to acknowledge the advantages his father provided him.
Choosing to respond immediately, Mihos bolted from a scheduled blood test to go to an emergency meeting at his campaign office. The test would have caught his prostate and skin cancer a year earlier than it was diagnosed.
Having recently moved from Cohasset, Mihos now lives five miles from his office, in a multi-million dollar West Yarmouth home with a private beach overlooking Nantucket Sound as his backyard.
Mihos has been happily married for almost 34 years.
"I get up every day and I know I've got five years and if I make it to the fifth, I've got another five," Mihos said. "I just don't believe in retiring. Your mind is such that unless you're doing something all the time, it sort of atrophies and if your mind goes, your heart goes."
MetroWest Daily News