I am the planning director at Coastline Elderly Services, where I have worked two years handling grant writing and administration for a variety of community programs and services. Previously, I worked for a nonprofit called Mass Senior Action and was appointed to the New Bedford Council on Aging, working on the Age Friendly initiative.
I began my career organizing with unions like the Mass Teachers Association and Mass Nurses Association to benefit our community. I now volunteer with Samaritans Southcoast, PACE, the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools, the LGBTQ Network, and the Coalition for Social Justice.
The New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools
The Coalition for Social Justice Action Fund
Citizens for Paul Heroux
I am running for Ward 5 City Council because I want to help address the issues that are affecting our city the most: pedestrian safety, improving our infrastructure, the dwindling availability of truly affordable housing, the need to improve senior services, homelessness, and mental health.
Since I ran in 2021, I have deepened my commitment to our city and Ward 5 by volunteering and participating with many community organizations that focus on the needs of the most marginalized among us. Our city deserves new voices that will address these issues effectively, compassionately, and quickly.
With limited land in the city for potential commercial development and tax revenue, what can the City Council do to build the tax base outside of taxes on private homes? What would you do as a councilor?
As a proud homeowner near Buttonwood, I know that we cannot continue to increase the already astronomical tax burden on homeowners. The City Council should help market our city to new sectors of industry that are not yet operating here. This would help build up and diversify our business community, along with residents, by catering to various levels of experience and education. We have multiple colleges and universities in our city whose graduates are forced to pursue higher paying careers elsewhere due to the limited career field options. This would help to increase tax revenue from new businesses, lowering the tax burden on residents, and providing more employment opportunities.
When you can’t build out, you must build up instead. Lean into what has been successful, like expanding our airport to allow for more taxable commerce. We currently have a population of over 100,000 residents throughout our city’s 20 square miles. The South Coast Rail will open soon, so we’ll have more people and developers eyeing our city — we must strike while the iron is hot. This means working with new industrial developers to create an attractive environment for businesses to thrive.
UMass Dartmouth’s decision to move the College of Visual and Performing Arts out of New Bedford is seen as a significant blow to business and cultural activity downtown. What could the city have done to keep the CVPA here? What should the city do now?
The decision to close the CVPA’s Star Store Building by UMass Dartmouth is tragic for both the students impacted, and more largely, the thriving artist community within New Bedford. I am sure that in due time, we will come to find out more about who benefited from this hasty, irrational, and greedy decision — but now is the time for our city to plan for the future.
The City Council should immediately hold public hearings, in partnership with the mayor, residents, and statewide delegation, to find out what can be done, when it must be done by, and what residents think the downtown artist community would most benefit from. The need for community input cannot be minimized when thinking about what we should do, or what can be done, as this decision will impact our city for generations to come.
We could help market the property to another university with the intent to support the artistic community. Or we could put in high density housing. Or we could put in new business space. There are plenty of scenarios that could happen, but we must quickly start identifying what our city’s residents, artists, and downtown business community want.
Most agree the city needs more affordable housing. How do you see the role of the City Council in this?
Undoubtedly, the housing crisis within our city is the biggest issue. This did not happen overnight, nor is it specific to our community. Although our mayor recently put out the Building New Bedford plan to promote housing development, more can be done to help tackle the multi-faceted issue of housing.
I applaud At-Large City Councilor Shane Burgo for putting forth the non-binding Rent Stabilization ballot question. Ultimately, Councilor Burgo’s question was unsuccessful, but it started a larger discussion on what we can do as a community to address this issue together.
There is no silver bullet for the lack of affordable housing in New Bedford. It will continue to be a multi-decade struggle, but that doesn’t mean good should become the enemy of great. During my first campaign for Ward 5, I championed a policy that many other communities throughout the state have adopted — Inclusionary Zoning. This essentially rewards landlords and developers that prioritize affordable and low-income housing, which could be another step we could take to help address this issue. When the cost of building materials and labor are the same as Boston, our city must set ourselves apart to encourage the development of housing in all forms.
How should the city balance the needs of the offshore wind industry with the needs of New Bedford’s commercial fishermen?
For 20 years, New Bedford’s fishing port has been the most lucrative in the country. Annually, the port brings in close to half-a-billion dollars’ worth of seafood. The significance of this on fishermen and their families, along with our local economy, cannot be overstated.
Similarly, the issues associated with climate change will continue to impact our city and get worse sooner than most expect. The acidification of our oceans and pollution of our drinking water will affect everyone. Our world’s continued reliance on fossil fuels and inability to efficiently switch to renewable energy sources is an existential threat.
My yard signs were created with both of these facts in mind, by combining our city’s leadership with embracing renewable energy sources and our incredibly valuable fishing industry. One solution would be to place a tax on the energy created by offshore wind that goes towards offsetting any financial impact that the wind industry may have on the fishing industry. Whatever the solution may be, we must work together as a community to protect our local industry and environment.
Editor’s note: Candidates in all contested races were asked the same questions with a limit of roughly 200 words for each answer. Additional profiles will be printed as they are returned by the candidates.