NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — The New Bedford City Council voted against Carol Pimentel, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell’s nominee for the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School District Committee.

The Committee on Appointments and Briefings voted 5-4 on Tuesday to not advance the nomination to the full council with a favorable recommendation. A subsequent vote to allow Pimentel to receive a full vote without a recommendation also failed 5-4.

Voting in favor of Pimentel was Ward 1 Councilor William Brad Markey, Ward 5 Councilor  Scott Lima, and Councilors at Large Shane Burgo and Brian K Gomes.

Those who voted against the nomination were Ward 2 Councilor Maria E. Giesta, Ward 6 Councilor Ryan Pereira, and Councilors at Large Naomi R.A Carney, Ian Abreu and Linda M. Morad.

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Carney, who serves as the chair of the committee, said she could not vote for Pimentel due to her serving on multiple boards and committees and that she had to explain the admissions policy to her during the hearing. Carney also said she wanted to see a nominee who recently graduated from GNB Voc-Tech representing the school on the board.

“Let's bring some of the new Voc kids in there,” she said. “Not so much the old Voc kids. We have a lot of 30-35-year-olds who are smart. Tradesmen who would want to be sitting on the board.”

Pimentel, a graduate of the old New Bedford Vocational, said to Carney that she did understand the admissions policy and how it originally focused on grades, disciplinary actions and attendance.

She also told the council she could not change the policy on her own as she was only one vote on the board, but acknowledged the current process may exclude middle school students from the opportunity to go to the school.

“I want to see equality,” Pimentel said during the hearing. “I would work with other school committees to get equality there. I think it starts with the councilors at middle school and I think they need to be doing more to learn why students want to go to VocTech."

Councilor Markey said his vote was based on Pimentel’s resume and said while the admissions policy of GNB Voc-Tech was “a hot-button issue,” he agreed Pimentel on her own would not radically change how the school operates.

New Bedford City Hall in New Bedford, Massachusetts
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“I got a chance to talk to her, she has a lot of ideas, she has a great history as far as education, I look at people like that who can make a positive contribution,” Markey said. “I know admissions is a hot topic, but I don't think that's a reason to bring someone in. It’s only one vote, and I thought let's give her the opportunity."

Mayor Mitchell nominated Pimentel on July 21, 2022. Her original date for a hearing was Dec. 13, but the hearing was postponed after Councilors Burgo and Pereira walked out of the meeting, and the council then failed to have a quorum in order to take up the nominations.

During an appearance on SouthCoast Tonight, Mayor Mitchell accused Carney of intentionally delaying his nominations. Carney herself denied this allegation during a separate appearance on SouthCoast Tonight.

In a written statement to WBSM, Mitchell said the city councilors should explain why they delayed this hearing, and said Pimentel was fully qualified to serve on the board.

“For the second time in less than two years, the city council has struck down an eminently qualified candidate for the Voc-Tech board after delaying the confirmation hearing for several months. The residents of New Bedford are entitled to an explanation from the council,” Mitchell said. “People who volunteer their time in service of their city should be treated with more respect.”

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