Robert Cabral, candidate for Ward 3 City Councilor. Credit: Robert Cabral

A former entrepreneur, store manager and substance abuse counseling case manager, Robert Cabral brings to the Ward 3 field a restless energy and a long to-do list. 

The resident of Beetle Street in the Hicks-Logan area of the ward’s eastern edge just turned 58 and seems in a hurry to do, well, just about everything. 

His aspirations for his council activities include working on: solving homelessness across the city; ongoing plans for development of an industrial park at the Whaling City Golf Course on the west side and the redevelopment of the Hicks-Logan area in the east side of the ward; tightening up spending practices across the city; improving public education; bringing more businesses and jobs to New Bedford; conducting a traffic study at Hathaway Road and Rockdale Avenue; working to sell, demolish or find a new use for all abandoned city-owned properties in Ward 3; live streaming council meetings. 

And, oh yes, improving constituent services. 

“Customer service is a top priority,” said Cabral, who grew up in Westport and has lived in New Bedford for seven years, in the ward for three. “It should be a top priority for every council person.”

He figures that’s a natural for him, as he spent decades running his chimney cleaning and stove businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He said he knows how to keep customers happy, even if running a business did not turn out to be what he came to consider his calling. 

“I’ve had the high-paying job, it did not make me happy,” said Cabral, who said he found what he wanted to do while working as a project manager for Welcome Home, a program for homeless people run by Steppingstone Inc. in New Bedford. He worked there for 10 months, said he learned a lot, but also saw the limits of what he could accomplish in that position for a nonprofit organization. He thought he could do more as a city councilor. 

“That’s one of the main reasons I decided to run,” he said. 

Using notions he developed while working at Steppingstone, he drafted a report on solving homelessness in New Bedford. It runs 24 pages, including detailed diagrams and price specifications for a “pallet village,” a type of temporary housing that can be put up quickly and still provide secure living spaces. The state of Massachusetts in November launched plans to create a cluster of such shelters for 30 people at the site of the Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain in Boston. 

Cabral argues that the city needs more coordination of efforts to help homeless people, including among nonprofit organizations, under the direction of a city official who reports to the mayor. 

“If I get elected I’m going to be a bulldog on this issue,” said Cabral. 

Email reporter Arthur Hirsch at

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