Bruce Wayne Duarte Jr.
Retired lieutenant for the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office with 30 years of service. I currently work as a substitute teacher at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School. I served six years on the New Bedford City Council, representing Ward 4, including as City Council president.
Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union
I have a strong commitment to public service and a deep commitment to the New Bedford community. During my previous tenure on the City Council including as council president, I worked tirelessly to address the needs and concerns of residents, advocating their interests and working towards positive change. If I’m blessed enough to be elected, I plan to focus on several key issues including taxes, jobs for our residents, economic development, public safety, and education. I believe in creating opportunities for local businesses to thrive, attracting new industries to the city, and improving the overall quality of life of the people I represent.
Bruce Wayne Duarte Jr.
With limited land in the city for potential commercial development and tax revenue, what can the City Council do to build the tax base outside of taxes on private homes? What would you do as a councilor?
We need to generate interest in currently vacant parcels throughout our city, including the Building 19 site and also the commercial buildings at Kings Highway Plaza. These areas have been underused for far too long. A successful campaign to redevelop these and other areas in the city will add to the commercial tax base, thus assisting homeowners. Another way to reduce the tax burden on homeowners would be to support current and future businesses that want to expand in our city. We must give these businesses the full support of the city and its agencies responsible for economic development.
UMass Dartmouth’s decision to move the College of Visual and Performing Arts out of New Bedford is seen as a significant blow to business and cultural activity downtown. What could the city have done to keep the CVPA here? What should the city do now?
The decision made by UMass Dartmouth to close the CVPA will have a negative impact on our downtown for the foreseeable future. Many businesses enjoyed having the faculty and students as customers, and at the current time there’s no alternative being presented to make up for that loss. Frankly, it was up to UMass, the Legislature, and the governor’s office to ensure that the art school remained at the Star Store building and that the students weren’t displaced. As councilor, what I’d like to see going forward is a conversation between the city, chancellor Fuller, and the state as to what can be done to bring back the CVPA and or an alternative for that building that benefits the city and the downtown. These conversations need to be open to the public.
Most agree the city needs more affordable housing. How do you see the role of the City Council in this?
One of the things I like is that the city is in the process of hiring a vacant property manager. At the current time, there are over 500 vacant properties in this city that can be developed back into housing for our residents. As councilor at-large, I will support this position and provide whatever assistance is needed to make it successful. I believe a smart, motivated property manager working with developers can successfully add to the housing supply, potentially lowering housing costs. A streamlined permitting process would also be helpful to support the redevelopment of unused properties throughout this city such as the old Sunbeam building and school buildings no longer in use. As councilor-at-large, I would support these initiatives because they make sense for our residents.
How should the city balance the needs of the offshore wind industry with the needs of New Bedford’s commercial fishermen?
As the councilor of Ward 4, I represented the fishing industry for six years. I understood then as I do today how important to our city this industry is. Our city is proud of the men and women who have given us the distinction of being the number one fishing port in the country for over a decade. I will always fight to keep that distinction.
Last month I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Vineyard Wind 1 at the Bristol Community College (BCC) campus downtown. I was impressed to learn how much they are working with the fishing industry and also how many fishermen are working for Vineyard Wind 1. I believe this collaboration is critically important for both industries. Speaking with members of the fishing industry unfortunately, NOAA has played a far bigger role in keeping our fishing fleet grounded. As councilor-at-large, I will continue to work with the fishing industry advocating for their interests. I believe in “all of the above” approaches to our energy needs, including renewable sources. As a councilor-at-large, I will make certain that both industries continue to work together as they are at the present time. I will also continue to support BCC’s efforts to provide education opportunities, so residents of our city are trained for the jobs associated with the wind industry. If we get this right, these jobs will ultimately provide livable wages for our city’s residents.
Editor’s note: Candidates in all contested races were asked the same questions with a limit of roughly 200 words for each answer. Additional profiles will be printed as they are returned by the candidates.