Carmen Amaral found that life thrust her early on into the role of advocate. She said she considers it fine preparation for the work she wants to do as Ward 3 councilor.
She’s 43, and now working as the academic coordinator for Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester, but as a child, not long after her family came to this country from the Azores 39 years ago, she and her older brother were the English speakers in their household. They had to learn how to manage health care, government bureaucracy and other services for their parents, she said. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, she helped to coordinate treatments before her mother died at 44. Amaral was 13 at the time.
“Advocacy’s in my blood, or I was conditioned that way,” said Amaral, who lives on Caroline Street, near the geographic middle of the ward. She’s lived in the ward about 10 years and this is her first run for public office.
When the council spot opened up, she figured she had the skills and the desire, and she could see that her neighbors needed a more active voice in City Hall.
“They don’t know whom to call” in the case of an array of local vexations: dark street lights, potholes, trash. She wants to be the person to call, to keep people informed and, she hopes, encourage more participation in civic life.
She’s a science person by academic discipline — she studied chemistry as an undergraduate, worked for a pharmaceutical company for a few months, then taught biology and chemistry in public schools — and figures she’ll take that critical thinking approach into her council work.
“You collect information” on an issue, she said, and it’s OK to change course if the best information takes you that way.
At the moment, she’d like to know more about how the neighborhood around the Whaling City Golf Course would be affected if part of it is ever developed as an industrial park devoted to “advanced manufacturing,” as the proposal has been called. The city is expected to put out another request for proposals this year after a previous attempt did not draw any developers’ plans.
While she said manufacturing businesses could benefit the city, there’s the chronic problem of traffic backups near the golf course on Hathaway Road. How would a new development fit into that picture?
“People are worried, and rightfully so,” she said. “That impacts you every day.”
Her job in Rochester is a full-time commitment, but she said she’s learned over the years to manage going to school while working, exercising regularly, visiting with her father, who is now 86, and taking care of her dog.
“If you want something done,” she said, “ask a busy person.”
Email reporter Arthur Hirsch at email@example.com.
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