36 Intriguing Delawareans • Alex Pires
Lawyer & entrepreneur
Dewey Beach businessman Alex Pires has always forged his own paths, including three careers—civil rights law, entertainment and banking—and 69 years of spirited living, sometimes with money, sometimes not, and always with dogged determination. “There’s honor in losing,” he says, but “if you’re willing to take a beating enough, that [foe] will never go away.” He adds: “I try a lot of new ideas and projects. Accordingly, I lose as often as I win. The process of getting knocked down and having to get up and move on, builds character.” Of course, there’s honor in winning, says Pires, who built a national reputation representing farmers given short shrift by Uncle Sam in getting loans and by Big Tobacco in selling their crop.
Pires grew up outside Boston, studied at colleges in three states and in 1975 started summering in Dewey. In 1989, he created the Highway One Partnership, which owns multiple businesses in town and also contributes through fundraisers, festivals and other events to Dewey’s quality of life. In 2006, he formed Community Bank Delaware. In 2009, he mined his mother’s hardscrabble life to write and direct “Mayor Cupcake,” a movie about a baker suddenly and surprisingly thrust into leading her town.
In his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign as an independent against incumbent Tom Carper, Pires cited the importance of being a free-thinking independent like Bernie Sanders and how he’s conservative on money and liberal on social programs. “In other words, a radical,” cable news anchor Greta Van Susteren, a longtime friend, said when he announced his candidacy on her Fox show. Pires today is pursuing state legislation against payday lending (a vote is expected in late June on House Bill 54) and suing 5,211 hospitals nationwide for military services. “I help good people by employing them [961 in 2016], and I try to stop the bad ones by suing them.”