All Eyes Are on New Bedford’s Ward 5 [OPINION]
More than 102,000 people live in New Bedford, but only a handful of them can participate in today's preliminary election. Only the race for Ward 5 City Councilor has drawn enough candidates to require a preliminary election. Let's hope what happens in Ward 5 today triggers a response in all of the other wards and across the city in two years.
Ward 5 voters have three city council candidates to chose from on today's preliminary ballot. Incumbent Scott Lima is seeking a third term on the council. Lima has two challengers, Raena Camacho and Zach Boyer.
According to a recent Standard-Times profile of each challenger, Camacho is 42 years old, a community engagement mobilization coordinator for the HEAL Center, and is passionate about "mental health, education and school resource officers, gang violence, opioids, surviving the pandemic as small business owners and gentrification."
Zach Boyer, 27, an organizer with Mass Senior Action, told the S-T he was motivated to run by "the COVID-19 pandemic, New Bedford's $64 million in federal stimulus funds, the housing crisis, and the South Coast Rail project," which he fears could contribute to gentrification.
Lima, a realtor with Re/Max Vantage, is 58 years old. He chairs the council committees on Environmental Affairs and Audit and was recently appointed to the board of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster. Lima's Standard-Times profile says he is most concerned about "COVID-19, the opioid crisis, and homelessness." He says employment will be a key issue going forward.
Ward 5 voters have a richness of options from which to consider in today's preliminary election. The two top vote-getters will advance to the general election on November 2. Ward 5 is the only place that will vote today since it presents the only contested race. The polls are open until 8 p.m.
It's too bad there is so little interest in the remaining 10 city council seats and for the School Committee which has two open seats to fill in November. Let's hope a spirited campaign in Ward 5 will generate interest for the other elected positions, including mayor, when the 2023 election rolls around.
In the meantime, it's all you, Ward 5. Turn out some big numbers and inspire the rest of the city to get involved.