Rodrigues becomes first-ever minority, Cape Verdean mayor of Brockton

  • 16/07/2019 15:09

City Council President Moises Rodrigues was chosen by City Council to succeed Bill Carpenter as the next mayor in Brockton. Rodrigues is now the first non-white mayor of Brockton, and he is the first Cape Verdean mayor of the city, which has a large immigrant population.

BROCKTON – For the first time in history, Brockton’s top political leadership position will be held by a person of color, after City Council selected one of their own on Monday to complete the unexpired term of former mayor Bill Carpenter following his unexpected death on July 3.

As a standing room only crowd cheered him on and held up camera phones to capture the historic moment on video, the 11-person City Council voted unanimously during a special meeting held on Monday evening to select City Council President and Councilor At-large Moises Rodrigues to serve as mayor of Brockton until a mayor who’s elected later this fall takes over in early January. Rodrigues, who is Cape Verdean-American, is the first non-white person to serve as mayor of Brockton.

With his young grandson by his side after being sworn in, Rodrigues thanked everyone in attendance, “especially” his wife, Maria, and he expressed gratitude to his fellow city councilors for the “faith” they put in him.

“I’m going to put out an invitation to all of you,” said Rodrigues, addressing the packed audience inside Council Chambers. “This is your chamber. This is your city hall. No one owns it but you, the taxpayers in this community. Please use it, please come check us out, and please help us make Brockton a greater city.”

Rodrigues pledged to keep City Hall on the path set by Carpenter, who was 62 years old and was seeking a fourth two-year term. Rodrigues said he doesn’t plan to make any staffing changes. Rodrigues also said he plans to run again for councilor at-large in the fall election.

“I made a promise that we are going to work together as one government,” Rodrigues said. “I have absolutely no intention, unless someone burns the building down, of getting rid of anybody. What we’re going to do though is strap our boots, and work together for the people of this community. The taxpayers aren’t paying us ... for us to come here and just hang out. When you look at the events that we went through the last week and a half or so, it was difficult for everybody. There was not a single person in this community who wasn’t affected by it. As a citizen of this great city of ours, it’s important again that we leave our differences asides, our thinkings aside, and work for the good and will of the people of this city. That’s what I intend to do for six months.”

Per city ordinance and state law, Rodrigues has been serving as “acting mayor” since Carpenter’s death, before City Clerk Anthony Zeoli called for the special meeting to hold Monday night’s vote. Zeoli said Rodrigues now has the full power of mayor.

Before that, Rodrigues was an aide to former Brockton mayor James Harrington, serving as director of community outreach and development at the mayor’s office.

A Navy veteran who served the U.S. military from 1983 through 1989, Rodrigues has been working full-time as a child protection specialist for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Rodrigues, 57, is also executive director of the Cape Verdean Association of Brockton, a nonprofit serving the Cape Verdean and other immigrant communities in the city since 1977.

Rodrigues, who was born in Cape Verde but came to the U.S. as a child, moving on to graduate from Brockton High, at one point served five years from afar as a member of Cape Verde’s national parliament.

This year, Rodrigues advocated for the “Brockton United” ordinance, co-sponsoring the proposed city law along with Councilor At-large Jean Bradley Derenoncourt. The proposal was opposed by Carpenter, who deemed it a “sanctuary city” law that would unnecessarily place restrictions on Brockton police from providing information about people they encounter or arrest to federal immigration authorities. Rodrigues and Derenoncourt said the proposal would help open the lines of communication with marginalized undocumented immigrants and local police, assuring victims of domestic violence, for example, that they won’t be turned over to the feds for deportation if they report a crime to Brockton police. The Brockton United ordinance ultimately died in a 6-4 City Council vote in late May.

Derenoncourt is one of several candidates now running for mayor during the citywide election, joining second time candidate Jimmy Pereira, and others that have recently joined the race.

According to a list provided by the Elections Commission on Monday, other people who have taken out papers to run for mayor this year include Marcelin Ruggeri, Steven P. Foote, Paul H. Cavanaugh, Tony Branch and Carina Mompelas.