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By Yadira Betances | Yadira@elmundoboston.com
Everett, MA – Stephanie Martins wants to make history by becoming the first Latina to serve on the Everett City Council.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” said Martins, who turned 29 on April 7, the day after she kicked off her campaign at Oliveira’s Steakhouse in Everett.
“If we really want change to happen, we have to go out and do it ourselves.”
“Someone has to open the door for others. No one can represent you better than yourself.”
Martins, a democrat, said she was inspired to run after Donald Trump, who has different views on immigration, was elected president.
Martins, who was born in Brazil, worked as an independent paralegal writing 601 letters for people looking to obtain an immigrant visa.
“Every week I wrote a different story. I understand the struggles. I always had a drive to be a lawyer or be in public service,” she said.
According to US Census Bureau, Everett has 41,667 residents whose medium age is 35 and is a diverse community with the largest groups being Caucasians (62 percent) Hispanics (21 percent) and African Americans (14 percent). Nevertheless, Martins said “Hispanics and African Americans are under-represented in city government.”
“The bottom line is that Everett needs a voice,” she said.
Her top priority is education
“It’s a matter of getting these kids to go to college and believe that they can be somebody,” Martins said, adding parents also need education as many cannot speak English.
Martins, is a graduate of Harvard. She is setting her sights on the youth and said she wants to work with the elderly and immigrant populations.
“We need to reach out to everybody so we can make the city better and safer,” she said.
Her platform also includes public safety, housing, job creation, transportation, after-school programs, and addressing the opiate crisis.
“We want to make sure Everett is secure and it’s a place where people want to live and stay,” Martins said.
Her main goal is to make City Hall more transparent and accessible to all residents.
“The bottom line is that we need a voice and I want to make it for the people,” Martins said.
She wants to support small businesses grow and prosper in the city where most of the jobs are in health care and social assistance.
She and her husband, Al Oliveira, own Dream Builder Development Group. She is also a real estate agent.
“If smaller businesses flourish, the better it will be for the city, its residents and the economy,” she said.
Martins wants to make sure Latinos get jobs at the Wynn Boston Harbor Resort, a $2.4 billion casino being built by billionaire developer Steve Wynn along the Mystic River.
The complex is expected to open in 2019 and will include a 617-room hotel, casino, waterfront park, stores and restaurants.
Before entering the political arena, she worked in financial services in Lynn and Framingham where she learned how to speak Spanish while working in these communities. Martins is also fluent in English and Portuguese.
Even though this is her first time running for office, Martins has been active with the Young Democrats of Massachusetts Women’s Caucus. She helped organize events for Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign and was an active volunteer for Attorney General Maura Healey’s campaign.
Healey endorsed Martins for the City Council seat.
“Children throughout our state need leaders they can look up to and Stephanie is a shining example of all that is possible,” Healey wrote in her endorsement letter.
“I’m endorsing Stephanie because she’ll be a great local partner in all the critical issues facing our cities and state.”
Martins was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and moved to the United States in 2002 just in time to start her freshman year of high school. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009.
She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in social science and a concentration in government.
While in college, she helped Harvard employees become U.S. citizens and helped citizens register to vote through MIRA.
The primary elections in Everett will be on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017.