Shawn Oliver said he has knocked on a lot of Ward 3 doors in his first bid for public office. He said about 3,000 of them, and that was mid-December. So many little chats could make his work statistically significant. Enough, perhaps, to take a measure of a Ward 3 State of Mind.
It is not happy, he found. It feels ignored. It feels that its concerns are too easily put aside.
“There’s a history of being forgotten, with past representation,” he said, not naming names. “The people in this part of the city feel their needs have been the thing that had to give” way to other priorities. “These people are begging for proper representation.”
Oliver, who is 39, figures he can provide that on the council, even with a full-time job that takes him away from the city every work day. He works as a correctional officer at MIC-Cedar Junction, formerly known as MCI-Walpole, a maximum security state prison.
His affable demeanor might belie the fact that he spends his work days in such a tough place. He might seem more suited to, well, a position in politics.
“The biggest thing is communication, follow-up and more communication,” he said, adding that he’s already set up a second phone line dedicated to Ward 3 residents. The better to address this nagging sense people seem to have that they’re not being heard.
The predictable traffic jams on Hathaway Road, for instance, have been talked about for years, yet nothing has been done about it. Now there’s a city effort afoot to attract more intense commercial development on a portion of the Whaling City Golf Course, and who knows what’s happening with that. There was a plan drafted under a previous mayoral administration in 2008 to redevelop the Hicks-Logan area, but it was never approved by the council and nothing happened.
Lots of talk. Lots of plans flying around on paper. Lots of Ward 3 residents in the dark.
“The city does not do such a good job communicating what’s going on,” said Oliver, who grew up in the South End in Ward 6 and moved to Ward 3 only two years ago. Immediately before that his family was in Wareham, as his wife was working in Plymouth at the time.
Now he’s living in the thick of a Ward 3 “pain point,” as he calls these chronic vexations, such as traffic and lack of constituent services. That is, he lives on Upton Street, in the west side of the ward, near Shawmut and the dreaded Hathaway Road, across Route 140 from the golf course.
“If my golf game was better I could stand on my roof and hit the 16th tee box,” said Oliver.
He can’t do that, but he gets a load of Hathaway Road traffic on a regular basis. As a resident, he said, he’d be happy to see more business move into the city, and into the ward, and he figures a portion of the golf course is probably going to be developed eventually, but…
“We have to make sure we’re doing right by the people of the city, and that we’re listening.”
Email reporter Arthur Hirsch at email@example.com.
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