Love brought Clement "Kim" Tingley to Charlottesville five years ago. He has a new town and a new baby. And while some successful men might consider spending more time smelling the roses, he decided to run for political office for the first time.
Not just any office. He chose Mitch Van Yahres' 57th District House of Delegates seat, which former mayor David Toscano has been eying for years.
Tingley had barely announced his candidacy April 6 when he found himself in the hot seat: the Toscano camp sent out a press release accusing Tingley of conducting a "push-poll" that made "incorrect assertions" about Toscano's record and character.
Tingley seems taken aback by the criticism.
"We had a professionally conducted poll by a well-respected polling company," he says. "In a primary, Democrats shouldn't be attacking other Democrats. I'm not going to say anything negative."
(The Hook didn't get a chance to hear the entire poll first-hand, as the second question goes something like this: "Are you or any member of your family a member of the news media?" We answered in the affirmative, and the poll was over.)
An unabashed progressive, Tingley has a construction company that builds communities of affordable housing, and he frequently boasts that he's never built a house that costs more than $175,000. Of course, that's in the Richmond area.
Still, Tingley isn't a man afraid of a challenge, and he cites the time he agreed to build a Habitat for Humanity house– without any land, money, or volunteers. He found all three, and built not one, but two new houses.
Tingley says that at Swarthmore College he studied to become an engineer because he failed French three times in high school. "The engineering course was crammed so full that there was no room for a foreign language," he jokes. He followed that with a master's degree from Penn and an MBA from William & Mary.
His engineering skills are apparent in his circa-1900 Grove Avenue house, where he's knocked down walls and installed a see-through a fireplace.
He knows the exact number of days before the primary– 56 on the day of this interview– and plans a grassroots campaign. "I don't have the name recognition," he acknowledges. "Not yet. Just wait."
And how did he end up as Clement "Kim" Tingley? His family, who came to Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the 1600s, has had a Clement Tingley IV every other generation for–well, generations, he explains.
"My parents felt compelled to name me that, but they didn't really like it," he says. "They liked Rudyard Kipling," and that's how he became Kim.
And if his plans for name recognition work, "Tingley" will be on the tip of every tongue.
Why here? I came here for a ballroom dance about five years ago. There was a lovely woman standing at the side of the room. We danced every other dance (in the ballroom dance community, you can't dance every dance with the same person– everybody needs to dance). We are dancing still.
What's worst about living here? There's no good grocery store within walking distance of my home downtown.
Favorite hangout? Fuel
Most overrated virtue? Eating lean. A Dove bar has 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat, but it sure is good.
People would be surprised to know: I once supervised a team of volunteers in constructing two homes for Habitat for Humanity. It took 56 hours and 40 minutes.
What would you change about yourself? My age. I have an 18-month-old daughter. I want to be around for the important events in her life.
Proudest accomplishment? Having a successful small business that I operate in a socially conscious way
People find most annoying about you: I fidget. My wife has to take the knife, spoon, bits of paper, pens, etc. from me while we're waiting for food at a restaurant.
Whom do you admire? Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia: 87 years old and fighting hard for progressive values
Favorite book? I recently read The Known World. It's another perspective on an unfortunate time in our history. I also liked The Da Vinci Code, a quick, fun read.
Subject that causes you to rant? Solutions that have nothing to do with the problem like "saving " Social Security by reducing the revenue to create private accounts, and Orwellian language, like calling a bill that increases air pollution the "Clear Skies Act."
Biggest 21st-century thrill? Kayaking down the New River, rounding the bend near the take out, and seeing skydivers jumping off the bridge over the New River gorge
Biggest 21st-century creep-out? Two guys who were going down the river with us came back with only one boat. The other had been trapped under water.
What do you drive? '96 Saab 900, 185,000 miles and going strong
In your car CD player right now: Raffi Let's Play
Next journey? The tropical rain forest in Costa Rica
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? When my first family was young, I had a lot of medical bills from a premature baby and a pregnant wife. I then lost my job. It was a scary and difficult time.
Regret: I never met my father.
Favorite comfort food: Homemade chili with Zesta saltine crackers and cheddar cheese
Always in your refrigerator: White wine and cheddar cheese
Must-see TV: no answer
Favorite cartoon: Calvin and Hobbes. I really relate to Calvin.
Describe a perfect day. A morning walk to the Farmer's Market in late spring with my daughter. Getting fresh food. Fixing dinner for some good friends.
Walter Mitty fantasy: My current life is a Walter Mitty fantasy. I have a great partner– my wife far exceeds my expectations, and she gave me a great daughter. My sons are in good places. My honeymoon was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I recently went to Borneo, hiked 12 miles to a research camp back in the jungle (tropical rainforest) and stayed for a week.
Who'd play you in the movie? I'm oblivious. I hardly know any actors by name– maybe Clint Eastwood.
Most embarrassing moment? I don't embarrass easily.
Best advice you ever got? The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Favorite bumper sticker? "If you aren't outraged, you're not paying attention."
Clement "Kim" Tingley
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO