As I have canvassed neighborhoods and knocked on doors, I have heard from residents what they want and expect from the person representing them in council.   They want someone who has experience advocating for the needs of others, who has fiscal savvy, who is going to prioritize schools and education, and who will be there for them when they call with a concern. I am that person.

Sean Rose/Photo: Matt Wright

Over the past twenty-two years, my professional career has focused on improving the quality of life of others.  This work has taken me all over the country, and as far as Africa. I have extensive experience in the public sector, private sector and a municipality, and currently own a small business in the city supporting those impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These varied professional experiences have well prepared me to serve a city as diverse as Worcester.

I am the Executive Director of a non-profit human services agency, responsible for our Northeast CT programs and services. As a member of our Governing Body, I oversee a 163.7 million dollar budget, 3,300 staff and over one hundred programs in three states. Progress sought by City Council comes with a fiscal cost, and my experience overseeing considerably sizeable budgets gives me unique knowledge in fiscal management. I often have to work with federal, state and local funds in a manner similar to how the city manages its financial resources.

In addition to fiscal oversight, I effectively support employees. I advocate legislatively to have increased wages, better healthcare and more resources for their education. We service vulnerable populations, including traumatized children, seniors with complex medical needs and those who struggle with mental illness and addiction.  I am an Adjunct Faculty to the Trauma Center in Boston, a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Children’s League and the National Association of Children’ Behavioral Health.  I am no stranger to fighting on behalf of those who need a voice. I will bring this passion for service to the residents of District 1.

I believe the research that tells us schools are the single most important element in sustaining a city’s growth. I have a Master’s in Education and am a certified Massachusetts school principal. My wife is a special education teacher in the city and we have five children in our Worcester public schools. We know the importance of education, not only to children, but also the major role it plays in the city’s future. We need better school infrastructure, and to provide teachers with more resources to access and strengthen their curriculum.  Over 50% of Worcester Public School students are considered economically disadvantaged which leaves us vulnerable. Prioritizing funding for our schools and affordable after school programs should be the master plan and I intend to fight to have this on the forefront of our fiscal agenda.

District 1 voters, when you hit the polls on November 7th, vote for Sean Rose, the candidate with a proven record to meet the needs of our district.

The best defense to the opioid epidemic may be a good offense – engaging Worcester’s citizens, particularly its youth, in worthwhile activities, sports, programs, and treatment, before they can be drawn to using dangerous substances. As a Board Member of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, a member of the Children’s League, and an Adjunct Faculty for the Trauma Center, I often get asked to weigh in on this important topic. I think it’s critical that more attention be shifted to positive engagement of youth through citywide programming, as a proactive measure to stopping abuse before it starts.

Sean Rose/Photo: Matt Wright

A different approach is needed to treating this terrible epidemic, which had reached approximately 140 deaths as of 2016. This epidemic cuts across all socioeconomic statuses, but impacts impoverished youth (who make up nearly 50% of Worcester Public School students) disproportionately. Therefore, prevention must reach across the city both geographically and socioeconomically. Keeping youth engaged in and motivated by local activities, programs, and services, treats the problem before it begins.

While the City of Worcester has some strong programming for youth in place already, there are a number of gaps and always room for growth. Teachers are asked to do more and more each year, with less and less resources. Middle schools need competitive sports teams, which are free or offer scholarships. There needs to be more affordable afterschool programs, continued access to parks and recreational programs in our parks, free or affordable art and music activities, and other avenues for developing positive identities and growth. This has the important benefit of putting youth in the care of positive adult role models, who can mentor youth, intervene early, and connect youth with the services they need.

From a mental health perspective, substance abuse can be best viewed as a symptom of an underlying problem. Right now, we are mainly treating this symptom on the surface, rather than at its source. It is absolutely critical that the citizens of Worcester, and its policymakers, continue to support funding for these types of preventative, engagement-based programs.

Last week, Worcester received a grant from the Baker Administration that will guide people towards care, rather than jail, if they meet certain requirements. This is great news for the city, however, we need to view programming and funding for youth engagement as just as important to treating this pervasive and troubling problem. When elected, I am eager to champion the agenda of not only developing community services that treat the aftermath of this epidemic, but also to advocate for prevention programs that engage youth district and citywide.

The City of Worcester has a 9 million dollar tax “surplus” on its hands presently. There are longstanding policies in place earmarking 80% of this 9 million dollar surplus for retirees and enhancing or retaining financial reserves. These policies have helped the city attain such favorable bond ratings.

Sean Rose/Photo by Matthew Wright

Therefore, that leaves 20%, or 1.8 million dollars of “free cash” to be allocated to a predetermined line item by City Council. Some people may hear “surplus” and assume that the city has new and available funds towards an area of need. They shouldn’t.

I was always under the impression that a surplus is defined as more than what is needed, or excess. The excess in this case is an excess of taxes paid by taxpayers. An overpayment by taxpayers should not be considered a “surplus” or “free cash” in this case.

Simply put, the surplus is an overage in what WE paid in taxes. Taxpayers should be refunded for their overpayments. The current policy around surpluses really needs to be examined more closely by the council. There needs to be more urgency around steering policy towards reducing the residential and commercial tax rates for residents when there is opportunity. This is that opportunity.

When elected, I am eager to not only explore policies that give money back to tax payers, when appropriate, and I am looking forward to working with the city administration in continuing sound fiscal management.