The prize for the Least Likely Resume for a City Councilor might go to John F. Robinson, who comes to the race by way of a career as a musician and music teacher. But, wait. It’s the way he was teaching music that he said helped him cultivate skills that could come in handy on the council.
Chord theory or the Circle of Fifths don’t tend to come up in the course of regular council business, but Robinson for decades not only had the musical chops of a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston — his main instrument is trumpet — he also had organizational and time management talent that was key to survival.
Because after graduating in 1982 he couldn’t find a conventional job teaching music, so in 1987 he took his act on the road. For more than 30 years he ran a circuit of public schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, providing private music lessons in school classrooms. He handled all the scheduling, billing, arranged student concerts and phone calls with parents by himself. It worked nicely. Then came the spring of 2020, and COVID-19 shut the whole thing down.
He’s since gotten a real estate license, and is working with Diana Henry Realty in New Bedford. But he found out during all that time working as many as 10 schools between Warwick to the west and Buzzards Bay to the east that he could keep tabs on hundreds of students and their parents.
In other words, he said, perform a crucial function for a Ward 3 councilor: constituent service.
“That’s what a councilor should be doing, to take care of the people’s interests, to be their advocate,” he said.
In his campaign chats he’s heard a lot from residents about complaints, some of them long-standing, that do not seem to be addressed, and not just the traffic on Hathaway Road. There’s a mess of trash that tends to accumulate inside a fence next to I-195 near his street. There’s the telephone pole needing repair on Wilbur, and a street light along Rockdale that was knocked down and hasn’t been replaced. There’s the stop sign on Pamela Drive that residents have wanted but got a radar speed sign instead. There’s a missing bus stop sign.
Small things, but all adding up to residents’ sense that there’s a disconnect with city government.
“Things look to me like they’re just not getting done,” Robinson said.
Should he be elected, he said he would keep his constituents informed about council activities and take their comments and suggestions through a website he’ll create.
“I’m going to be a full-time councilor,” said the resident of Wilbur Street, near I-195 and Hathaway Road, who is 64 years old. “I don’t care how many hours it takes.”
Email reporter Arthur Hirsch at firstname.lastname@example.org
More stories by Arthur Hirsch
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