Circle Jan. 15 on your calendar. That Monday, Oceanside resident and Democrat Juan Vides may very well announce his candidacy for public office.
Vides, who would be a first-time candidate, did not say which office he might run for, but at the Five Towns Hispanic Association meeting on Nov. 22, Vides, 40, did say that more diversity is needed to offer different perspectives and connect with people who believe they are underrepresented in government.
“I started thinking about running on election night, where I saw hope and a need for representation,” Vides said in a hallway of the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence after addressing the Hispanic Association.
“I want to be the bridge to connect people and start a dialogue,” he added, referring to representing not only the Hispanic community, but also all the ethnic and religious groups on the South Shore.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, also a Democrat, will run for his second term next November, as will State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, a Republican who represents the 20th Assembly District.
“Senator Kaminsky is focused on the upcoming legislative session and on helping County Executive-Elect Curran as a member of her transition team,” said Alexandra Farbenblum, Kaminsky’s communications director. “Senator Kaminsky is not focused on a race almost a year away and will not speculate on a hypothetical contest” — meaning a possible run by Vides.
Vides and his family came to the United States when he was 4, a journey that he was told involved a “long and dangerous trip from El Salvador.” His first English word — pen — he learned from another passenger on the bus ride from Laredo, Texas, to New York in 1981.
Five years later, his family, like many other immigrant families who entered the United States before 1982, was granted amnesty under an immigration reform bill signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Armed with a green card and a newfound respect for an American president, Vides considered himself a “Reagan Democrat.” He attended Long Beach High School, where he learned about the nation’s electoral process. Motivated by the power of the vote, he said, he encouraged his parents to become U.S. citizens with him.
Vides did so in 1993, and began working at Trader Joe’s supermarket at 16. Five years later, he was offered a management position, but he decided that retail was not his passion.
At 26, four years after earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences at Nassau Community College in 1999, he enrolled at Farmingdale State University to study computer programming and systems information. While there he helped revitalize the college’s computer club. “I bought pizza, and we had up to 40 members,” Vides recalled, adding that Professor Ernest Falco, the club adviser, mentored Vides and helped him get a job at Pulver Enterprises/Free World Dialup in 2003.
Vides became an operations manager working for Jeff Pulver, who later co-founded Vonage, an internet telephone company. Vides went on to work for Broadvoice.com, a Massachusetts-based, voice-over internet protocol telephone service provider, as a technical support engineer before founding his own company in 2009.
The idea for TechACS Corp., headquartered on Roxbury Road in Oceanside, came to Vides after he attended a corporate trade show in Boston and his wallet, containing all his credit cards and identification, was stolen. Standing in front of roughly 40 people at the community center, he told his story using computer-generated images, and said, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
TechACS Corp. has built more than 1,000 websites since it was founded, and offers an array of services ranging from web development to online advertising.
Vides has also served and is currently on the boards of several organizations, including the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce. He’s a “nice guy” who’s “always trying to do the right things,” according to the current board president, Lionel Chitty. “I’m focused on revitalizing downtown Hicksville, and Juan has always been there to help support us,” he added. “I wish him the best. If he does the right things and makes the right decisions, he should do well.”
Married with two children, a boy and a girl, Vides said he hopes his success serves as an example for others and a springboard for giving back to the community. He said that helping to establish more after-school programs for children to avoid street gangs would be part of his possible platform. “If I get elected, that will be one of my goals,” he said.
Hispanic Association member Jose Serrano said the South Shore needs a Hispanic voice in government. “It’s time to support a Latino and stand behind him,” he said. “I will go door to door for Juan.”