Candidate at a glance

CITY RESIDENCY:
Lived in New Bedford for 14 years
WORK:
La Soul Renaissance

Q&A
Erik P. Andrade

Tell us briefly about your qualifications and why you are running. 

I am running because I believe the current property tax assessment formula is unfair and can contribute to displacement and gentrification. Currently, the property taxes are set based upon the “market rate.” With Mayor Mitchell’s use of creative placemaking to increase property value, our community is already feeling negative impacts. Our fixed-income residents are being financially squeezed. Corporations and speculators are buying homes in cash at as much as $50,000 above the market rate. This is going to dramatically increase the property values in the next term of the tax assessor. This will lead to increased gentrification.

What do you see as the most important task for the Board of Assessors in New Bedford? How would you work to meet that challenge?

I want to advocate for those most negatively impacted from the position. I will educate the community at large about the flaws in the current model and suggest alternatives. I will outreach and educate the community about the current exemptions process available to seniors over 70 years of age, veterans with at least a 10% disability, and community members with disabilities (i.e., blind), who apply for an exemption with the Assessor’s Office by April 1.

I will also advocate that the New Bedford mayor cancel the 2.5 percent yearly increase in the property tax levy, especially in lieu of COVID and the rapid increases in rent. I believe we need to also lobby the Mass. Legislature and Department of Revenue for exemptions for residents who have fixed incomes. Taxes should never displace community members. Taxes are supposed to be collected for the common good. They shouldn’t harm the community. 

When real estate prices rise, there are always some residents who are upset that their assessed home values are too high. Given the limited and very structured role of assessors, what do you say to someone who wants you to lower their home’s value so they won’t have to pay as much in taxes? 

I do not believe that our city taxes should be based upon the real estate market. The real estate market does not deal with justice, equity or equality. The real estate market has a long history of discrimination and racial bias. The real estate market is historically unfair and fluctuates, based on the will of those with money. Given that the current model is based on the real estate market, we have an unfair model. I would inform residents of the current abatement process and help them to see if they are eligible for an exemption. Ultimately, there are severe limits on remedies based on the limitations in the current flawed and harmful system. I would suggest and support them in advocating to state representatives, city councilors, the mayor, and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for the creation of a more equitable tax assessment formula and/or exemptions for fixed-income residents.

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