What better way to introduce the new ordinance allowing food trucks in the city than with a Chelsea Food Truck
City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher (left) and City Hall summer intern Katherine Cabral invite Chelsea residents to attend the first-ever Chelsea Food Truck Festival Aug. 14-16 at the Williams School parking lot.
That’s the path that City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher and City Hall summer intern Katherine Cabral are taking with the city’s first food truck festival that will be held on Aug. 14-16 (Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at the Williams Middle School parking lot at the corner of Arlington and Fifth Streets.
Watson Fisher, head of the Law Department for the city and a graduate of one of the nation’s finest law schools (Boston College), is the chief organizer, while Cabral, a CHS graduate and student at Bates College, is in charge of marketing for the organizing team.
Watson Fisher, who also supervises licenses in Chelsea, drafted the food-truck ordinance, which took one year to develop and gain approval.
“We’re trying with this festival to show that there is a customer base and market for food trucks in Chelsea,” said Watson Fisher. “We also want to get the food trucks here as an event for employees of City Hall. The Williams School is a good location for City Hall employees and other people who also work in the city during the day.”
Several employees from city departments, including licensing, law, DPW, inspectional services, schools, city manager’s office, will be in attendance and interact with the community at the festival.
Representatives from the National Institute of Justice will be conducting a survey at the festival. The Hubcats, which promotes the well-being of cats, will have an information table. The Archery, Limebikes, and Carter Park Crossfit are among the local businesses participating in the festival. There will be music and a possible appearance of the Chelsea Police “Copsicle” truck.
Attendees will have a wide of variety foods available for purchase, according to Watson Fisher.
“We’ll have a Chilean food truck, a Vietnamese food truck, a gluten-free, vegan truck, an American barbecue truck, as well as tacos, sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers, and desserts,” said Watson Fisher.
Cabral said the festival will help determine which type of food trucks might be popular if the trucks were stationed here on a daily basis.
“We’re bringing in a big variety of food trucks to see what the people want going forward and whether the food truck operators are interested in collaborating with Chelsea,” said Cabral.
Though Watson Fisher is ready to review applications for food truck licenses and to potentially grant them, there are no food trucks currently operating in the city.
“We have allowed food trucks at certain events,” said Watson Fisher. “But at this point there are no food trucks operating in the city.”
Cabral believes the festival will ignite an interest in food trucks wanting to set up shop in the city.
“We really do want this event to be a springboard for food trucks to come to Chelsea and to expose our dayworkers to see this an opportunity to try new things, so we’re super excited to hold such a multi-faceted event in our city,” said Cabral.
Jose Cruz is quiet at the first impression, but he is intentional about and committed to improving his community.
At 13-years old and a student at the Browne Middle School, “Josey” called by those who know him well, has been volunteering at the Chelsea Walk with artist Silvia Lopez Chavez since the beginning of the project. Throughout sweltering hot days, Josey has been on scene helping the artist prime and paint the transformative mural which will make everyone in Chelsea proud.
Josey is the president of the Explorer Post 109, a community service and leadership club for Chelsea adolescents, teens and young adults. He exemplifies all of the good in Chelsea youth Ð respectful, kind and committed to helping out. He has aspirations to become an aeronautical engineer. Every person who walks by says “hello” to Josey and remarks about what a “nice kid” he is.
Josey is just one of the dedicated people who are working to ensure this mural is led by and created for the community.
Marion T. (McLaughlin) Decowski passed away on Tuesday, July 31, in the peaceful surroundings of her son’s Rochester, N.H. home.
She was 87 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, a daughter of the late John F. and Margaret G. (Coleman) McLaughlin.
Marion attended St. Rose Parochial School and graduated from St. Rose High School. She worked as a librarian at the Chelsea Public Library and as a long-distance operator and telephone repair associate for NE Telephone Co.
In 1952, she married Raymond J. Decowski and the couple raised their family in Chelsea. She also resided for several years in No. Andover and spent time between Alton Bay, NH and “Swiss Village” in Winter Haven, Fla.
Marion was widowed in 1991after sharing 39 years of love and devotion with her beloved Raymond. More recently, she lived with her daughter in Derry, N.H. and continued to winter at “Swiss Village”.
She lived an independent and active life style all of her life. She enjoyed bowling and playing cards with her friends in Winter Haven. She was a talented knitter and an avid reader, a past member of the former PAV Post 13 Ladies Auxiliary in Chelsea and a proud Irish lady who enjoyed Polka dancing.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was predeceased by her dear sister, Eleanor (McLaughlin) Woodward Ellard.
She was the devoted mother of Patti Hughes and her husband, Robert of Winter Haven, Fla. Jack Decowski and his wife, Patty of Rochester, N.H., Tom Decowski and his companion, Karen Welsh of Alton Bay, N.H., and Eileen Viens and her husband, Daniel of Derry, N.H. She was the sweet “Irish Babci” of Raymond Hughes, Christopher Hughes, Thomas Hughes, Jennifer Cormier, Eric Gianatasio, Robert Gulizia, Jonathan Decowski, Mark Decowski, Noelle MacDonald, Nicole Tusi, Samantha Wright, Raymond Decowski,
Thomas Decowski, Jr., Jessica Decowski, John Decowski, Shawn Viens and Stephanie Viens and the cherished great-grandmother of 16.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated on Tuesday in Our Lady of Grace Church, followed by Marion being placed to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett.
Funeral arrangements were by the Anthony Memorial – Frank A. Welsh & Sons, Chelsea. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett.
Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice, 218 S.Dixie Drive, Haines City Fla., 33844. For online guest book or to send expressions of sympathy, please visit www.WelshFuneralHome.com.
Gertrude A. Ciarlone of Chelsea died on July 26.
She was the devoted wife of the late James A., beloved mother of James Ciarlone of Chelsea, Robert Ciarlone of Everett and Donald Ciarlone of Billerica; sister of Doris Davis of Franklin, Mildred Nickerson of Malden and the late Anna, Elizabeth, Theresa, Helen, Ralph and Alfred and cherished grandmother of Lisa Ciarlone, Terri Walsh, Kristin Fulton and Gina Bauer. She is also lovingly survived by her great-grandchildren, Dylan, Jordan and David as well as by many nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were by the Smith Funeral Home, Chelsea. Interment was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
The last second ticked off the clock on Beacon Hill Tuesday night, and when the score was settled, education funding for Gateway cities like Chelsea was the big loser.
School Supt. Mary Bourque and Chelsea’s State Sen. Sal DiDomenico voiced extreme disappointment on Wednesday that the Legislature could not come to a compromise on fixing education funding – an issue that has dogged Chelsea, Everett and Revere in particular for the last three years. The compromise committee, made up of members of the House and Senate, failed to reach a compromise between their separate bills, essentially killing the plan that would bring more dollars to Chelsea.
“We’re leaving another generation of kids behind by not addressing the issue now,” said Sen. DiDomenico, who had helped to pass a comprehensive funding revamp bill in the Senate earlier this year. “The districts that lost the most are the ones that need the most help. It was our responsibility to step up for communities who are continuously doing more with less and in these circumstances we have failed them. I was willing to go the extra mile to make that happen. To not be able to make a deal is extremely disappointing. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. This bill would have seen substantial funding increases to our low-income communities like Chelsea and Everett – indisputably.”
Supt. Bourque said she was very angry when she heard the news that there hadn’t been a compromise.
She said that the time for waiting and watching for the state to take action is over.
“I just think it’s unconscionable that we aren’t putting student first and foremost in the budget,” she said. “We’re concerned about the economy and this is the next generation that will bolster that economy. It’s extremely short-sighted of our leaders to do this.”
She said that there should have been a compromise, as there were so many people willing to work out a solution, including Gov. Charlie Baker – who is a Republican.
“The House and Senate bills were so close in many ways,” she said. “It only required leaders to compromise at a certain point and they didn’t. It’s going to call on all of us for stronger advocacy moving forward. That’s what you’re going to hear from us. We have balanced our budget for this year. We made the difficult cuts this year and last year. We cut $2.7 million last year and $3.1 million this year. The greater implications and my concern is for the fiscal year 2020 budget. The situation will be much more difficult and we’ll be facing a third year of cutting $3-$4 million. Where do we cut? We’re already at class sizes of 30 students. We’ve eliminated all of our after-school programs.”
For those looking for answers within the inside baseball of the State Legislature, one clue came from a statement by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who was the lead sponsor of the Senate’s wide-ranging education reform fix.
In a statement on Wednesday, Chang-Diaz indicated that the House leadership was not willing to compromise. She said the House put forward their “deal,” and with time the Senate agreed to that deal – only to be told that the House was rejecting its own deal.
“This bill shouldn’t have been difficult to negotiate,” she wrote in a statement. “[The Senate] offered multiple versions of major concessions – on structure, on content, on money. I have only good things to say about the House conferees, who I believe really wanted to get to a deal. Yet, in the end House leadership rejected all our offer, moved the goal posts, and then killed the bill completely – stunningly, by rejecting one of their own proposals. I’ve seen a lot in my 10 years in [the State House], but I’ve never seen so many rationalizations and double-standards employed to avoid doing what’s right for kids.”
Chelsea has made numerous difficult cuts over the past two years especially. They have cut librarians, special education teachers at the middle school level and have not replaced positions.
Sources indicated that the compromise bill could have delivered along the lines of $10 million to Chelsea.
Other sources in line with Chang-Diaz’s comments said that the meltdown in the education funding fix came from the top of both houses.
Talk on Beacon Hill now is that the relationship between the Senate and the House – in particular their two leaders – is at an all-time low.
A state budget advocacy organization – Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center – has released a report this week detailing a five-year roadmap to fix the state’s education funding crisis – a plan that would require $888 million over five years and mean $21 million more in state funding per year for Chelsea Schools.
Colin Jones of Mass Budget told the Record that the report – titled ‘Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive’ – details a plan that would allow the state to increase school aid – specifically to communities like Chelsea Revere, and Everett – by around $200 million per year over a five-year period. That phased approach would lead to restoring what the 1993 education reform law promised, he said.
“The big picture is our school funding and the system isn’t really providing the resources that are needed for kids across these Gateway Cities like Chelsea,” he said. “The formula for funding hasn’t been updated in 25 years and the school district with the least wealth are facing the worst of it. We looked at the budgets and found that many of these districts are spending 25 percent below what they are supposed to spend on teachers. To make up for it, they have to shift money from other areas or get additional revenues or make cuts to other areas. That’s leading to these big budget gaps.”
Supt. Mary Bourque said the research confirms what the Chelsea Schools have been saying for quite some time.
“The Mass. Budget research validates what we have been saying as superintendents for years,” she said. “In 2013, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents did their own research which placed the underfunding of school districts at over $2 billion. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Reform Commission – of which I was a member – placed school districts also at over $2 billion underfunded. Now in 2018, we have MassBudget research attesting to the same. It is time to address the flaws that are well documented by multiple groups. It is time to fund our schools and place our students first.”
Jones said the formula fix needs to address the disparities between wealthy and poorer districts. Right now, he said Weston spends around $17,000 per student, while Chelsea Revere, and Everett are around $11,000 per student.
He said it should be the other way around.
He said the current formula requires districts to spend a set amount on teacher salaries, and in order to do that in the current funding climate, districts like Chelsea have to cut the extras, ask for City money or seek out grants. If that doesn’t happen, then it leads to cuts, bigger classes and no extras. Another byproduct is not being able to maintain school facilities properly.
“There are big gaps in these districts and it’s where you’ll see bigger class sizes, less money for the arts and less for enrichment programs,” he said. “You see them have to cut ties with long-time successful partners. They can apply for grants, but they shouldn’t be in that position. Education reform was about the districts doing their job at educating the kids and the state giving them what they needed to do it…We’re now starting to see a backsliding to what it used to be like before education reform.”
In Chelsea, the Foundation budget now is at $113 million, and state Chapter 70 education aid is $90 million. Under the new plan by Mass. Budget, by 2023, the school foundation budget would be $134 million and the state Chapter 70 aid would be $110 million.
It’s a gain of some $21 million per year in aid that the Chelsea Schools have been calling for over the past several years.
Jones said they consider their report a blueprint for fixing the statewide problem – a problem that is especially apparent in cities like Chelsea Everett, and Revere. He said he is hoping that it garners attention on Beacon Hill and becomes a point of discussion.
“We can fix this,” he said. “We have a blueprint now. These things will cost money to implement. There is a price, but we’re in a good economy and we’ve had good revenue collections at the state level. We’re looking at a phased approach of $200 million each year for five years.”
Role model Umemba steps up for the kids of Chelsea
By Cary Shuman
Kyle Umemba has modeled on runways around the world, but his real work as a [role] model is here in Chelsea.
Umemba is one half of the co-founding team with Cesar Castro of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament that will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Jordan Boys and Girls Boys Club on Willow Street. The fourth annual basketball extravaganza brings to Chelsea some of the best talent in the area.
Umemba, 25, was once one of those aspiring players who carved out an impressive basketball career at prestigious Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Cambridge. A product of the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) and an AAU standout, the 6-foot-3-inch guard/forward caught the attention of college coaches.
He thought of walking on at Division 1 George Washington but chose to focus on academics. He graduated with a degree in finance and currently works as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers – in addition to his celebrity appearances as a fashion model in New York, London and Milan for major designers.
“It’s a good balance,” said Kyle.
This month, Kyle is busy working with Cesar on the finishing touches for what has become the most anticipated summer youth tournament in the area.
What was the inspiration for Let It Fly?
“We saw that there was a lack of basketball leagues for the kids,” said Umemba. “We wanted to help out the players and also Chelsea graduates.”
And Umemba and Castro have done that in a big way, presenting $500 scholarships to 11 graduates of Chelsea High School and the Phoenix Charter School.
The unsung hero of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament is none other than Joan Cromwell, Kyle’s mother and the president of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC).
“Without CBC and Joan Cromwell, this tournament would not be possible,” credited Castro.
Joan’s company, Brown Sugar Catering, is the official
caterer for the tournament.
Kyle Umemba was asked whether he considers himself a role model for Chelsea kids.
“I don’t really look for that – if my actions determine that, so be it, but I’d rather just have some type of positive effect on people,” said Umemba.
Former hoop star Castro mentors players as a coach at CHS
By Cary Shuman
Cesar Castro could dribble, drive, shoot, and pass – but what he did best in his four years on the basketball court for Chelsea High School was: score.
Twelve-hundred-and-fifty-two-points worth, which makes him the second-leading scorer for boys in school history behind the legendary Craig Walker. He was the Commonwealth Athletic Conference MVP and led Chelsea to the conference title in his senior year (2010).
The 6-foot-guard is still very much active in the game. He is an assistant coach on Judah Jackson’s staff at Chelsea High School. Interestingly, the Red Devils won the CAC championship this season.
“It feels good to win a championship as a coach and a player,” said Castro, who went on to become an All-Region player at Bunker Hill Community College.
He is a paraprofessional aide at the Wright Middle School in Chelsea and is close to receiving his bachelor’s degree from Salem State University.
Because of daily interaction with Chelsea students in the schools and in the CHS basketball program, Castro, 27, saw the need for a summer tournament that could unite the community and bring some excitement to young players.
And he’s not resting on the past success of the Let It Fly Tournament that filled the gym to capacity last year with a succession of exciting games. There are free refreshments, musical entertainment by DJ Max Max, and Raffles.
“We’re going to start something new this year with a middle school division with four teams,” said Castro. “And we still have an eight-team high school division. It should be another great tournament.”
Teams from Lynn, Boston, Cambridge, and Chelsea will compete in the older division. Some of the top prep school players in New England will be playing in the tournament.
“It’s a one-and-one format so they have to come ready to play,” said Castro. “There’s no time for feeling it out. The players were talking about this tournament on social media back in December so they’ll be ready to compete.”
Castro said he and Umemba were members of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea while growing up in the city.
“We want to thank [Executive Director] Gina Centrella, Jonathan Perez, and John Perez for all their cooperation and allowing us to hold our tournament there,” said Castro. “That’s our home and we thank them a lot.”
Castro also thanked Chelsea Police officers Sammy Mojica, David Batchelor Jr., and Keith Sweeney, and Chelsea firefighter Jonathan Morilli for their assistance at the event, along with City Councillors Damali Vidot and Jamir Rodriguez, who have been big supporters of Let It Fly.
The question of being a role model for Chelsea youths was posed to Castro.
“It’s not my intention to be a role model,” said Castro. “I just try to be genuine. And when I grew up, I truly appreciated someone pointing me in the right direction and that’s what I try to do in the schools and in the basketball program.”
A member of the prosecution team that handles cases in Chelsea and Revere was honored with a prestigious award named after a former school teacher, Suffolk prosecutor, and Boston City Council member, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
Assistant District Attorney Priscilla Guerrero received the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve at a ceremony held last month at Suffolk University. The award is presented annually to a lawyer who pursues a criminal justice mission that balances outstanding legal work with community advocacy above and beyond the call of duty. Honan, who died suddenly in 2002, worked alongside Conley as an assistant district attorney in the 1990s before taking a seat representing Allston/Brighton on the Boston City Council.
“Priscilla is a mentor to high school and college students and a resource for her colleagues,” Conley said. “But perhaps most important of all, she shows a high-functioning moral and ethical compass that makes us all very proud.”
Guerrero started in the DA’s office as an intern before being hired in 2011 as a member of the Community Relations staff, where she helped organize Conley’s annual Soccer and Basketball for Peace tournaments, recruited volunteers for the Bowdoin/Geneva neighborhood clean-up project, and received special recognition from the Boston City Council for her efforts. She co-founded the weekly Reading Day event at the Joseph Lee K-8 School in Dorchester, which brings prosecutors, police officers, and other criminal justice officials into the classroom to read to young children – a program that got a widely-circulated mention on Twitter from the children’s author Cynthia Levinson earlier this year.
When Guerrero made up her mind to attend Suffolk Law School, she did it while working full-time and still managed to graduate a semester early. Taking a new role in the office as a paralegal, she helped brief and moot a series of cases heading to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and as an Assistant DA she argued them – including a serious domestic violence stabbing conviction that was ultimately affirmed by the court.
Though currently assigned as a line prosecutor in Chelsea District Court, Guerrero continues her role as an active ambassador for the DA’s office at the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast, Taste of Chelsea, and Basketball and Soccer events. In 2016, when she was named one of El Mundo Boston’s Latino 30 Under 30, she used her platform to promote the prosecutor’s job as an important and satisfying one that benefits the entire community. And on the day she received the Honan award, she organized a pot-luck breakfast celebration at the Lee School for the school year’s final Reading Day program.
“Priscilla has spent seven years building bridges with the people our office serves,” Conley said. “She’s focused especially on the kids and teens who count on us for safe neighborhoods. She’s a leader in and out of the courtroom and I’m very proud of everything she’s accomplished as a prosecutor and community advocate.”
Historically, there’s been very little to do on a summer night in Chelsea, and that’s been the problem.
Now, in its third summer, The Movement has been the cure to hapless wandering for local youth.
Instead, they hoop it up.
Coordinated by Councilors Yamir Rodriguez and Damali Vidot, along with Isidra Quinonez and Danny Mojica, The Movement keeps Chelsea kids age 13-20 busy on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.
“I think it’s just a great environment because a lot of the younger kids play with the older kids and they can see them on the street outside of the league and say ‘hi,’” said Rodriguez. “A lot of friendships start because of The Movement. It develops kind of a mentor situation because a lot of these kids don’t have an older brother and this helps that too. It’s kind of an unintended consequence, but it’s one of the best things about it.
“The kids love hanging out and playing ball,” he continued.
Vidot said it helps to bring youth together in a relaxed, but supervised, environment.
“On Saturday morning, they don’t hand out, but they come to play,” she said. “After playing all day long, they will not want to go out to the streets when they get home. They’ll stay in and take it easy. On Friday night, they don’t want to stay out because they have to be here on Saturday morning. You have the 13-year-old playing with the 20-year-old, so it helps them become better players. It also builds community. It’s not like a lot of other youth leagues where you have to sign in and sign out. It’s street ball. They can be themselves.”
The Movement came out of a desperate situation, where the community was reeling in the spring of 2016 after the shooting death of Pablo Villeda during an early morning teen party on Washington Avenue. The shooting also injured numerous other young people, and it showed that the youth who are not “at-risk” needed some activities as well.
That’s when The Movement came together.
Now, the league has several hundred young people playing against one another all summer. Typically, the games are played at Highland Park, but a renovation project there may force them to move to the Williams School.
The Movement will begin play in early July, and it had its annual kick-off at Chelsea High last weekend – with the Battle of the Classes and Police vs. Fire basketball games.
“Basketball is the entertainment,” said Rodriguez, “but it’s the environment that has become very important.”
The Healthy Chelsea Coalition has just launched a new website.
Heathy Chelsea was founded in 2010 when obesity was identified as the city’s top health concern through a community health needs assessment (CHNA) conducted by Mass General’s Center for Community Health Improvement.
Two years later, the coalition voted to expand its focus as residents and community partners identified substance use and its effects, including violence and public safety, as the city’s top health concern. From its inception, Healthy Chelsea has enjoyed substantial support from City leadership including the City Manager, Director of Health and Human Services, the School Department, Chelsea Police Dept. and others.
Through the new website, Jennifer Kelly, Director of Healthy Chelsea, is “excited to showcase all the great work that we are doing with our community partners. We also hope to educate residents about our programs and to encourage their participation in these important efforts.”
Coalition priorities featured on the site center around healthy eating and living strategies in both the schools and larger community; the Youth Food Movement (YFM) internship program, which allows high school and middle school students to advocate for higher-quality food in their school; promoting a trauma sensitive city; increasing community connection; and, a relatively new initiative focused on early childhood development.
Kelly is especially happy to talk about the recently funded youth substance use prevention work. Through a federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant and state Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) initiative, the coalition has hired two new staff members who are engaging youth and parents while also working with various community partners to implement proven strategies to reduce substance use disorders.
Healthy Chelsea is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI).
Mass General’s Vice President of Community Health, Joan Quinlan, said, “We are so proud of the work that Healthy Chelsea is doing and of our strong partnership with the Chelsea community. Now, with the launch of their new website, everyone can learn more about their programs and the significant impact they are making.”
Kelly added, “It’s wonderful to be able to promote what can happen when residents and community partners come together for the health and well-being of their community.”
Visit http://www.healthychelsea.org to learn more about their focus areas and programs; staff profiles; community partners; news and upcoming events; and, much more.
Evandro Carvalho believes his campaign for Suffolk County District Attorney is picking up momentum with just under three months to go before the Democratic primary is held on Sept. 4.
“It’s an honor to be running, to get to know the various communities in Suffolk County, and I believe we have a great shot to win this election,” said Carvalho, who has been a state representative in the Fifth Suffolk District (Dorchester, Roxbury) for four years.
Carvalho, 36, is a former assistant district attorney who worked for 2 ½ years in current Suffolk County DA Dan Conley’s office prosecuting gun cases in court.
Carvalho has received a number of endorsements from the Suffolk County delegation in the House of Representatives.
“My colleagues in the House know my heart, they know my passion to serve our community and they know the experiences that I’ve had, particularly as a former assistant district attorney who was one of the leaders in pushing for the criminal justice reform that we just enacted in April,” said Carvalho. “They understand that I’m the best person to go and implement those changes to improve the law.”
Carvalho feels his experience as an assistant DA and state representative and his record of service to the community set a strong foundation to his bid for the Suffolk County DA position.
“I think it’s time for someone like me, who knows the particular communities – whether it’s the youth, the people dealing with substance abuse issues or mental health issues – who has been fighting for those affected by these issues – to serve the people of Suffolk County as their next district attorney,” said Carvalho.
Originally from Cape Verde
Carvalho was raised on his grandparents’ farm in Cape Verde (islands), which is a nation off the west coast of Africa.
“I learned how to work hard and I also learned the value of education,” he said.
Carvalho came to the United States when he was 15 years old to join his mother (Ana), who was already residing in Dorchester. Fluent in Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese, he learned how to speak English and enrolled at Madison Park High School in Boston. He became a top student academically, graduating in 1999.
He continued his education at UMass/Amherst, focusing on Legal Studies and Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in African American Studies, graduating in 2004. He enrolled at Howard University Law School, receiving his law degree in 2008.
“One of the reasons I chose Howard was that I was inspired by Thurgood Marshall, who was an alumnus and the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice,” said Carvalho. “He made such an impact on American history. The legacy he provided for us at Howard was so admirable.”
He became a citizen of the United States in 2008 and his first vote was for Barack Obama for President.
“I remember how excited the people were that Obama was elected as president,” said Carvalho. “That was one of the important moments in my life, and it inspired me to serve – that I, too, could be someone that helps move our society forward and becomes a unifier like Obama was, a leader who brought America together.”
Serving as an assistant ADA
After working at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington, D.C., he returned to Boston in 2011 and became an assistant district attorney in Dan Conley’s office. He said he learned a lot in that position and always tried to help people improve their lives and get back on the right path.
“You see the same families cycling though the criminal justice system, dealing with substance abuse issues and other issues,” said Carvalho. “These are real people, not just another folder and another number. I understood their situation because I grew up in those neighborhoods. That inspired me to run for office, to become a state representative and change that system, to be able to do more to break the cycle of individuals going in and out of jail without a way out.”
A focus on criminal
justice in the House
As a state representative for the past four years, he has focused his efforts on improving the state’s criminal justice system.
“And together with the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and the work of my colleagues and advocates throughout the state, we were able to accomplish the criminal justice reforms that nobody thought we could,” said Carvalho.
He is also committed to the continuing battle against the opiod crisis in Massachusetts.
“The opioid crisis is one of the most important issues right now,” said Carvalho. “The system, as a whole, has not dealt adequately with the individuals affected by this crisis. As the vice-chair of the public health committee and someone who has visited various neighborhoods, I see too many citizens dying from this epidemic. I intend to fight this through a public health lens and focus upon treatment for people. And instead of drug addicts going to jail, let’s get them in drug treatment facilities and focus on programs to help them get long-term treatment. We need to expand the drug court programs in Suffolk County. Make no mistake, the people that need to go to prison will go to prison, but let’s emphasize diversion programs as well.”
Hopes to bring accountability and transparency to the DA’s office
Carvalho said his plan as DA will be to bring “accountability, transparency, and diversity” to the DA’s office.
“I will make sure that the staff at the DA’s office receives adequate training and that we expand the capabilities of the victim witness advocates,” said Carvalho. “The reality is that the victims of crimes need a voice. We need to do more for them and build a relationship between the DA’s office and our communities ahead of time so they feel comfortable working with the office.”
Carvalho said throughout his life he has been able to “bring people together” for the good of the community.
“We need someone that’s going to come in and try to bring people together,” said Carvalho. “I want to start a sports tournament where different communities compete and the teams are made up of youths from different neighborhoods. I want to bring the next generation of youths together from the different parts of Suffolk County. The youth are our future and this will go a long way toward healing our communities and bringing us together. We are all Americans and we all want the same thing. My goal is to be a voice for all.”