I am currently serving as your councilor at-large, having spent this past term in office as both your City Council president and first vice president. I am also a small business owner here in the City of New Bedford, as I am the president & CEO of Silmo Syrup. In less than one year’s time, we have created 12 new local area jobs and have our products featured in over 100 local, regional and national grocers, markets, retailers and restaurants. Additionally, I am also a lifetime club member of Club Madeirense S.S. Sacramento, having served twice on the “Feast of the Blessed Sacrament” Executive Board.
New Bedford Fire Department Local 841
Local 385 Laborers and Carpenters Union Local 330 (as of the submission of this questionnaire)
I am proud of my tenure these past eight years as your councilor at-large, especially these last two years where I served as City Council president and first vice president. An accomplishment of note was the $64 million-plus American Rescue Plan Act COVID relief package I helped shepherd through with my colleagues and the administration in 2022 when I was the City Council president. Helping our community bounce back after being devastated throughout the pandemic was so vital and important to the rebuild of our city. Now, more than ever, we need a steady hand at the wheel in city government to help see our renaissance through. The residents of our community know my record and know that I will continue to remain their voice in city government, 24/7, 365, as their concerns are my concerns. Always.
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 continue to slash unwarranted City Hall bureaucracy whenever necessary as it relates to new construction, development and small business affairs. New Bedford has unfortunately been labeled by many as a community that is not “friendly” to economic development, and we need to strive towards changing that perception. New industry and new business lead towards growth of our tax base. Advocating for our business community is a cause worthy of my full attention and advocacy.
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?
To be honest, the city’s role in whether or not the CVPA could have stayed here or not is limited at best. The CVPA’s involvement in our downtown was contingent upon the university, commonwealth and state Legislature to find common ground to keep it here. Due to a whole slew of reasons beyond our control, that did not happen. Now, the question should be: Why did UMass Dartmouth not wish to keep the “Star Store” campus afloat? Did they not feel supported by their city? If not, what could we have done (or can we do) to help in our role of bringing them back? These are questions that need to be asked by us and answered by Chancellor Fuller.
Most agree the city needs more affordable housing. How do you see the role of the City Council in this?
One of the aspects of the historic $64 million American Rescue Plan Act COVID relief package we passed in 2022 under my leadership as president of the City Council included funding between $250,000 and $2 million to developers building new mixed-income housing in New Bedford (large-scale housing projects worth a $5 million investment or more). These new housing developments are also required to create new units for households with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income in order to qualify for funding. These ARPA dollars will go a long way to ensure that no family or resident, especially our children and seniors, will ever go homeless here in the City of New Bedford. Collaborative, creative approaches like these are exactly how the City Council can get involved in helping to abate our housing shortage.
How should the city balance the needs of the offshore wind industry with the needs of New Bedford’s commercial fishermen?
Our first priority as it relates to our port is to make sure our commercial fishing industry feels fully supported — whether through public advocacy locally, or by lobbying for or against legislation at the state and or federal level that could impact their business. Our fishing community needs to know that their government appreciates their craft. Can both commercial fishing and offshore wind co-exist? They possibly can, but only with full transparency amongst both parties about the environmental and economic impacts of each.
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.