Candidate Chat: Divo Rodrigues Monteiro
This is the fifth in a series of conversations with Boston City Council candidates. Justice of the Peace Divo Rodrigues Monteiro is running in District 4.
David S. Bernstein: Why are you running for the district office?
Divo Rodrigues Monteiro: First of all, I am Cape Verdean. There are a lot of Cape Verdeans in Boston. I believe now is the right time for us to have a voice and representation at City Hall. In addition, there are many issues at stake, like jobs. When I go from door to door, people I speak to want jobs, and there are no jobs. If I get elected, jobs are going to be my number one issue.
There is also a member of the Cape Verdean community, John Barros, running for mayor. Is that going to help get the community engaged, so people come out to vote?
I think so. Now I believe is the right time.
What kinds of plans do you have to create jobs?
I believe the government does not create jobs. Sometimes we need to get government off our back and turn it over to the private sector. If I get elected, I’m going to ask state and federal for more funding, and allow small business to have some grants so they can create jobs. If a small business fails to create jobs, they’re gonna lose the grant or credit. We need also to provide some tax incentives for small business—it’s small business that creates jobs, not government. The government needs to give tax breaks and loans at zero interest, and hold the small businesses accountable for job creation in the district.
You taught at a public school—how would that experience help you to improve education in the city?
I believe that we need to not use a single test to determine the level of intelligence of a student. We need to give alternative testing tools. We need to provide teachers with research and tools, training. I believe also that there is an achievement gap. We need to close it. One reason the achievement gap is not closing is that Boston, in the last few years, closed 18 schools.
Where did you teach?
I taught at Revere High School. But now I have my own business in the community because I want to give back to the community. I provide services. I am a justice of the peace, and a notary public.
You also list on your website that you are a poet. Are you published?
I won a prize in 2006. I won the status of poetry ambassador in 2006.
What language do you write poetry in?
Portuguese and English.
If you were able to get onto the City Council, what do you think you could teach other councilors?
We need city councilors to go door-to-door to listen to people, what’s going on in his or her own life. When you go from door-to-door people tell you their concerns, their ideas. City Hall is not coming to them, so we need to build a bridge that’s going to connect the city to City Hall.
You ran a few years ago for state representative. Did you learn a lot from that campaign?
Yes, I learned. But when I ran for state representative, it was late. I didn’t prepare myself enough. But now I’m going to start early. I’m better prepared than before. I’m going to engage a lot of people in this process, and mobilize them. I learned a lot. So step by step we’re going to climb the mountain.
Read more Boston City Council Candidate Chats. This interview has been edited for length.