Oliver Brings Everyman Perspective to New Bedford Ward 3 Race
After New Bedford Ward 3 City Councilor Hugh Dunn announced his resignation on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight, a growing field of potential successors have announced their candidacy in the upcoming special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Dunn's term.
One of the candidates, Shawn Oliver, said he has a duty to give back to his community that was instilled in him by his father who, when Oliver was a child, ran unsuccessfully for Ward 6 City Council.
"I always saw the drive that he had to makes some sort of difference," Oliver said. "And now that I'm older and I'm raising my family here that drive has really boiled up."
Oliver lives off of Hathaway Road, where his neighborhood and others nearby will be impacted by Ward 3's biggest development project, the Advanced Manufacturing Campus.
The Advanced Manufacturing Campus will be the product of converting the city-owned Whaling City Golf Course into a business park which will still include an 18-hole golf course.
Oliver said he is supportive of the project as it will bring more jobs and tax revenue to the city, but he – like many of his neighbors – is concerned about how will impact their daily lives. The primary concern being adding even more traffic to an already-congested road.
"It took me 12-15 minutes just to get off my street," Oliver said about his trip to the WBSM studio. "Because with the highway being there and virtually no traffic control from Shawmut (Avenue) all the way to Dartmouth, it gets pretty crazy."
Oliver, who is a constable and a corrections officer for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, also said he was supportive of two of Dunn's key legislative accomplishments: protecting public employee union's right to collectively bargain and sending a home rule petition to Beacon Hill that when passed will give full line-of-duty death benefits to the family of New Bedford Police Sgt. Mike Cassidy, who died of COVID-19 in 2021.
Oliver said Cassidy was his neighbor. He remembered him fondly and said people who serve their community as Cassidy did should have their family taken care of when they're gone.
"We talk about service in different ways, but at the end of the day, we all want to take care of our families, so that's the reason we do some of the things that we do," he said.
Oliver said that although he is not well-versed in the discipline of politics and campaigning, he brings an important perspective as a working-class member of the neighborhoods most impacted by some of the city's biggest policy goals.
"I like to think of myself as the typical resident," Oliver said. "The biggest thing for me is being the guy on the ground and talking to the people especially in that area that (the Advanced Manufacturing Campus) affects directly."
"Yes, you can get into the politics and things like that," he said. "But the biggest thing is the people that put you there in the first place. I feel like if you can take care of them and listen to them, then that's gonna be huge."
Listen to Shawn Oliver's interview on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight: