New Bedford Ward 3 Candidate Amaral Brings Immigrant and Educator’s Perspective
The New Bedford Ward 3 City Council special election to replace recently resigned Councilor Hugh Dunn has brought a broad field of candidates with varying backgrounds and experience.
Carmen Amaral, however, probably provides the most unique perspective and experiences out of any candidate in the field.
Recently, Amaral joined WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight to discuss her platform and how these experiences propelled her into a life of advocacy and community leadership.
Amaral immigrated to New Bedford from the Azores at a young age with her brother, mother, and father. Amaral said that they didn't speak the English and her parents learned little-to-know English, having settled in a dense Portuguese neighborhood.
Amaral and her brother persevered through the challenges of being a recently resettled immigrant. They quickly learned the language and took point, being a cultural liaison for their extended family.
When Amaral was in middle school, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. In the year between her mother's diagnosis and her passing, Amaral coordinated the myriad intensive treatments her mother would receive.
As a result of these circumstances, the typically adult tasks of speaking with insurance companies and doctors, as well as managing household budgets and bills, were given to Amaral and her brother at a very young age
"Those experiences have shaped who I am," Amaral said. "Being an immigrant has de facto put me in the position of being an advocate."
Amaral said that from those experiences, she has learned how to navigate complicated systems and come up with communicable solution.
"Seeking answers and trying to find solutions. That's a product. Part of that is the immigrant story," she added.
As an educator, Amaral has taken the skills she has honed in her formative years and brought them into a career where they can have the most impact.
Amaral said her professional background would also make her and effective steward for her neighbors in Ward 3.
"Education is about advocacy, outreach, and brining stakeholders together," she said. "Nothing is more important than the children of a community."
"Bringing together parents and different experiences and working towards a common goal, that's something you do in education every single day," she said. "Listening to the concerns of parents, listening to the concerns of students."
As an education leader, she also is well-practiced in budget management and working with state agencies such as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Amaral has an extensive education herself, holding a Bachelor's Degree from Bridgewater State University in Biology and Chemistry, and a Post Baccalaureate in Secondary Education, a Master's Degree in Teaching from UMass Dartmouth, and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Bridgewater State University.
The core issues Amaral identifies in her campaign platform are "building more responsive and equitable constituent services, expanding public services to create a better Ward 3, and promoting safety and wellness initiatives so that residents can live security and with dignity."
Speaking on the Advanced Manufacturing Campus, which will see the city-owned golf course on Hathaway Road in Ward 3 converted into a sprawling business park, Amaral said she understands the traffic concerns as someone who takes the exit on that road every day.
She said if elected she wants her constituents to bring their concerns to her and come before the city council to voice those concerns so that they can come together to develop solutions.
Amaral also said the project is an opportunity for the city and said they need to ensure that they can attract businesses that can offer well-paying union jobs.
During her campaign, Amaral has also been an outspoken advocate for New Bedford firefighters. She remarked on how critically important all emergency responder services are, and as a city councilor she would make supports for first responders a priority in the budget.
While out canvassing the neighborhoods of Ward 3, the top priority Amaral and her campaign team has heard from the residents is the need for responsive constituent services.
Examples she cited were a lack of signage in residential neighborhoods, forgotten trash collection, issues with snow plowing, and street lights that are out around Hayden-McFadden Elementary School.
Amaral had listed a few proposals to improve constituent services that included holding informal office hours at a time and place that best accommodates constituents, preparing materials that are translated in multiple languages, reaching out to seniors, and getting residents better acquainted with the little-known city services app.
"I think it's important to have people come together know how to reach out to their city councilor," she said. "So talking to people, developing an informal needs assessment, and finding out what works best."
Listen to Carmen Amaral's Interview on SouthCoast Tonight.