Ninety-two-year-old Greenbelt resident Bob Auerbach is not seeking a retired life—instead he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives on Maryland's Green Party ticket.
Following the Maryland State Board of Elections' recent announcement that the Libertarian and Green parties are once again certified as political parties in Maryland, Auerbach is back on the ballot and campaign trail.
Some people retire to resort spots and spend all their money on themselves, but that's not how he gets his kicks, according to Auerbach. He said that he prefers "helping out poor people and working for peace and disarmament."
With Auerbach in the 5th Congressional District race are Democrat Steny Hoyer, Republican Anthony O' Donnell and Libertarian Arvin Vohra. Though Auerbach suspects he won't be the victor, he says he's going for more than a seat in Congress.
"I'm pretty sure, I'm not going to win in the election," said Auerbach. "But the issues I'm campaigning for—they will win."
An activist for racial equality since 1930s, Auerbach points to big reductions in discrimination since he first began fighting racism. He is expecting the same for the peace and disarmament issues he is pushing for now.
The government is spending billions of dollars to develop new kinds of bombs, missiles and weapons, according to Auerbach, who says the government is spending nothing on developing non-violent methods.
"I think we should have a Department of Peace that would work on that," said the retired librarian and New York City native.
Born in New York City in 1919—and that's pronounced "Noo" York, not New York, he stressed—he did not always have an easy life. Auerbach learned the persistence he would later apply to political causes at an early age.
Since he was 7, he has been physically handicapped, according to Auerbach, who reports having had 12 knee operations starting in 1927. In 1929, when he was undergoing around his fifth operation, his heart stopped. It took an adrenaline injection directly in his heart muscles to get it beating again, he said.
Eighty-five years later, his heart is still ticking, as is Auerbach, who says he is an activist for nonviolence, environmental wisdom, social justice and grassroots democracy.
This is Auerbach's third run for Congress as a Green Party nominee. He's also served as the Maryland Green Party co-chair for three years starting in 1997, as well as an activist for a number of other causes, including the Congress of Racial Equality, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the War Resisters League, according to his political biography.
He thinks he may be the oldest Marylander to ever run for statewide or national office, and if not he's among the few. He referenced a Republican and surgeon, Dr. Ross Pierpont, a candidate who ran late in life, but Auerbach said he is the older of the two. Pierpont was a perennial candidate who ran for office 16 times and died at 88, according to the Baltimore Sun. So Auerbach trumps Pierpont when it comes to age, and he adds that he will be 93 in December, right after the election.
The former librarian is quick to augment answers with dates and times. He said he learned a lot being a reference librarian. People came to him with all sorts of questions, he said. And if he didn't know the answers, he said he knew where to find them.
Auerbach didn't just stumble into his reference job, he got his master's degree in library science in 1956 at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, TN, which eventually merged into Vanderbilt University, he said.
Following graduation, he moved several times, and ended up in Maryland. Fifty years ago, he bought a home in Greenbelt at full price for $2,400, he said.
On top of campaigning for office and working for peace, Auerbach said he is writing a book on how to live long and well. It takes three things he says, and they are—eat right, get exercise, and have a good positive attitude.
Auerbach, a vegan who tries to walk a mile a day, says he does so in shoes that aren't leather. He got them when he was in New Delhi a few years ago for $5 each.
If you follow the three principles, "Then you'll live long and be happy too. If you're not happy you probably won't live long," said Auerbach, who stands to reach centenarian status in less than eight years.