Yolanda Cancel: Springfield Mayoral Candidate | Connecting Point | Oct. 18, 2019


>>>COMING UP TONIGHT, AN
INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF THE TWO CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR OF THE CITY
OF SPRINGFIELD, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER YOLANDA CANCEL.>>THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD IS
ANGRY. THEY ARE DEPRESSED. YOU KNOW, THERE’S NOT ENOUGH
JOBS. OUR EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENT NEEDS
A LOT OF WORK.>>>AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
POLITICIANS DON’T PARTICIPATE IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS?>>THE OCCASIONAL HANDFUL OF
TIMES WE CAN LOOK AT SOMEONE AS ALL MONTH LONG, WE HAVE BEEN
PRESENTING A SERIES OF MAYORAL DEBATES EVERY WEEK ON THE STATE
WE’RE IN, LEADING UP TO THE ELECTION IN NOVEMBER. THIS WEEK, WE EXAMINE THE
CONTEST FOR THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICE IN THE CITY OF HOMES. IN SPRINGFIELD, THE CONTESTED
RACE FOR MAYOR HAS BEEN A RELATIVELY QUIET ONE. INCUMBENT MAYOR DOMENIC SARNO
SAYS HE IS FOCUSED ON CONFRONTING SEVERAL CHALLENGES
FACING THE CITY AND HAS DECLINED OUR DEBATE INVITATION. HIS CHALLENGER, COMMUNITY
ORGANIZER YOLANDA CANCEL, JOINED ME IN THE STUDIO TO DISCUSS HER
PLANS, IF ELECTED, TO CONFRONT A RANGE OF ISSUES FACING THE CITY
INCLUDING VIOLENT CRIME, EMPLOYMENT, AND THE ENVIRONMENT.>>DAY ONE OF MY ADMINISTRATION
WILL BASICALLY LOOK AT WHAT IS MY FIRST JOB AND DUTY AND HOW AM
I GOING TO DO THIS? I THINK THE BIGGEST THING THAT’S
GOING TO — I WANT TO MEET, EVERYBODY. RIGHT? WHO’S WORKING? WHAT’S THEIR — WHAT HAVE THEY
BEEN DOING? AND MY MAIN GOAL IS TO MAKE SURE
THAT I MEET EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT IS WORKING IN CITY HALL AND
TALK TO THEM. DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB? WHAT COULD WE CHANGE? AND TO GET A ONE-ON-ONE WITH
EACH EMPLOYEE. THAT IS MY GOAL TO DO.>>UNDERSTAND THAT PERSPECTIVE. SO I WANTED TO LET THE FOLKS AT
HOME KNOW THAT WE DID INVITE INCUMBENT MAYOR DOMENIC SARNO TO
PARTICIPATE. WE HAD HOPED FOR A DEBATE HERE
TODAY. WE’RE HAPPY TO HAVE YOU TO HEAR
YOUR INSIGHTS, BUT MAYOR SARNO’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER SENT US
SOMETHING AND IT SAID I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT MAYOR SARNO
WILL BE UNABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUR OCTOBER 18th FORUM DUE TO
TIME CONSTRAINTS. HE’S WORKING ON SEVERAL CRITICAL
ISSUES FACING THE SAFETY SPRINGFIELD ALONG WITH A
PERSONAL FAMILY SITUATION AND THAT WAS FROM PAUL LASSARD, THE
MAYOR’S CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN. WOULD YOU HAVE LIKED THE
OPPORTUNITY TO DEBATE MAYOR SARNO?>>ABSOLUTELY. I WOULD HAVE LOVED A DEBATE, NOT
ONLY SO PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
OF US, BUT ALSO TO GIVE — IT’S OUR CIVIC DUTY TO MAKE SURE OUR
VOTERS AND THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD KNOW WHAT OUR
FUTURE, WHAT OUR PLATFORM IS AND WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
THE TWO OF US? AND I THINK HE OWES THAT TO THEM
AS WELL AS ME TO UNDERSTAND WHAT OUR PERSPECTIVE IS AND WHAT IT
IS THAT WE WANT TO BRING IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS AND HOW WE WANT
TO BRING THE CITY IN.>>YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO
LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT. HE MENTIONED SEVERAL CRITICAL
ISSUES. WHAT’S A CRITICAL ISSUE FOR YOU
THAT’S FACING THE CITY RIGHT NOW AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO TO
CHANGE IT?>>I THINK — I DON’T THINK, BUT
I KNOW THAT THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUES THAT WE’RE HAVING IS
VIOLENCE, GUN VIOLENCE IN OUR CITY IS — IT’S — IT ALMOST
SEEMS UNCONTROLLABLE AT THIS POINT. AND THE OTHER THING IS DRUG
ADDICTION, OPIOIDS. AND THINKING THAT THE METHADONE
CLINIC IS THE OTHER OPTION AND IT’S NOT.
AND THOSE ARE TWO OF MY BIGGEST ISSUES IS THE VIOLENCE,
ESPECIALLY GUN VIOLENCE AND DRUG ABUSE IN OUR CITY.>>HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET
THOSE CHALLENGES IF YOU WERE ELECTED MAYOR?>>THE FIRST CHALLENGE IS TO
ALLOW ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS TO CONTINUE OPENLY TALKING ABOUT
HOW WE’RE GOING TO FIGHT THE WAR ON THIS GUN VIOLENCE THAT WE
HAVE RIGHT NOW AND CHANGING IT. ONE OF MY BIGGEST THINGS IS
TRYING TO PILOT A PROGRAM WITH MOMS DEMAND ACTION WHEN IT COMES
TO HAVING A BUYBACK PROGRAM WITH THE FIREARMS, MEANING THAT NO
QUESTIONS ASKED, ANYBODY COULD WALK INTO THE FACILITY, YOU
KNOW, AND WE’LL SET UP THE DAY AND IT WILL BE A YEAR-ROUND
PROGRAM THAT WE WILL PAY AN INCENTIVE FOR THE FIREARMS TO
COME IN AND DEPENDING ON THE FIREARM, WE’LL TURN OVER TO THE
INVESTIGATIONS UNIT TO SEE IF THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT
AND IF IT’S NOT, TAKE THIS FIREARM AND MELT IT SO IT WOULD
NOT BE FOUND BACK OUT IN THE STREETS BECAUSE WHAT WE’RE
SEEING IS GUNS THAT ARE STOLEN CIRCULATE THROUGHOUT THE STREETS
FOR YEARS. AND WE NEED TO STOP THAT. WE NEED TO GET THOSE GUNS OFF
THE STREETS SO WE NEED TO BE MORE PROACTIVE.>>YOU ALSO MENTIONED OPIOIDS
AND HOW YOU DISAGREE WITH THE METHADONE CLINIC. WHY IS THAT YOUR PERSPECTIVE?>>THE METHADONE CLINIC HAS A
16% TURN-AROUND. THAT MEANS THAT IT’S NOT
HELPING. IT’S JUST GOING FROM ONE DRUG
ADDICTION TO THE NEXT. WHAT WE NEED IS A 24-HOUR INTAKE
AND A NINE-MONTH INPATIENT. IF WE’RE REALLY GOING TO HELP
SOMEBODY WITH DRUG ADDICTION AND WE’RE NOT DOING IT BY JUST
SENDING SOMEBODY TO THE METHADONE CLINIC EVERY SINGLE
MORNING TO GET A DOSE AND THEN GO HOME. AND IT’S JUST GOING FROM ONE
STREET DRUG INTO JUST GOING INTO THE METHADONE CLINIC AND YOU’RE
NOT REHABBING ANYBODY. YOU’RE NOT COUNSELING THEM OFF
OF THESE PRODUCTS. NONE OF THAT. SO BY HAVING A NINE-MONTH
INPATIENT IS BY GIVING THIS INDIVIDUAL THEIR LIFE BACK, AND
PERMANENTLY, HOPEFULLY, RIGHT? AND THE LONG-TERM EXPANSE,
BECAUSE DRUG ADDICTION IS A DRUG ADDICTION BECAUSE OF MENTAL
HEALTH, IS A DRUG ADDICTION BECAUSE OF SO MANY WAYS, YOU
PARTY TOO MUCH, OR SOMETHING DIFFERENT. WE DON’T KNOW, BUT LET’S FIND
OUT. WE HAVE TO TAKE A MORE PROACTIVE
APPROACH AND A MORE CLINICAL APPROACH. OVERPOLICEING IS NOT THE ANSWER.>>YOU TALKED A MINUTE AGO ABOUT
VIOLENT CRIME IN THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD AND I WAS LOOKING AT
THE FBI STATISTICS FOR THE CITY. THE FBI RELEASED ITS ANNUAL
CRIME REPORT. LAST MONTH, WHICH LOOKS AT THE
PREVIOUS YEAR, IT SAID THAT VIOLENT CRIME IN THE CITY OF
SPRINGFIELD WAS DOWN 3.3% NATIONALLY, BUT WHEN WE LOOK AT
THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, THERE WERE 1,534 INCIDENTS REPORTED. PRIOR YEAR IN 2017 IT WAS 1,351
THAT WERE REPORTED SO THAT’S A DIFFERENCE OF 12.6%. YOU KNOW, IF ELECTED AS MAYOR,
HOW WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ADDRESS THAT VIOLENT CRIME?>>WELL, YOU KNOW, VIOLENT CRIME
COMES IN SO MANY AREAS. RIGHT NOW, THE CITY OF
SPRINGFIELD IS ANGRY. THEY ARE DEPRESSED. THERE’S NOT ENOUGH JOBS. OUR EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENT NEEDS
A LOT OF WORK. OUR ADMINISTRATORS NEED A LOT OF
HELP. OUR TEACHERS NEED A LOT OF HELP. AND AS A CITY AND AS MAYOR, YOU
ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE SO THERE’S A LOT THAT
YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE EVERYTHING THAT WE NEED TO DO. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE
GETTING OUR KIDS EDUCATED TO LEAD OUR CITY AND LEAD OUR
COUNTRY AND AT THIS MOMENT WE’RE NOT DOING THAT.>>A FEW MINUTES AGO YOU
MENTIONED JOBS. HERE IN THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD,
ACCORDING TO THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE
DEVELOPMENT, THE MOST RECENT NUMBERS SHOW THE UNEMPLOYMENT
RATE IN THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD AT 6.2%. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE REST OF THE
STATE, THAT’S 2.8%. SO CONSIDERABLY HIGHER HERE IN
THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD. YOU’RE A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER IN
ADDITION TO YOUR OTHER ROLES. YOU’RE SPEAKING WITH PEOPLE ALL
THE TIME IN THAT CAPACITY. WHAT DO YOU HEAR FROM PEOPLE
ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT FROM JOBS, WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR?>>THEY’RE LOOKING FOR
OPPORTUNITIES. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR
BETTER-PAYING JOBS. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR TRAINING. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR EDUCATION. ESPECIALLY OUTSIDE OF THE
WORKFORCE. BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WHEN I’M
KNOCKING ON DOORS AND I’M ASKING HEY, YOU KNOW, DID YOU GET HIRED
AT MGM? YES, BUT THEY DIDN’T LAST, AND
IT’S LIKE WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU LAST? I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND IT OR I
DIDN’T KNOW HOW — SO YOU HEAR THESE DIFFERENT THINGS, AND IT’S
LIKE OKAY, SO NOW, YOU’RE BACK OUT, AND NOW, YOU’RE UNEMPLOYED,
AND IT’S LIKE WHAT COULD WE DO AS A CITY TO MAKE SURE THAT
WE’RE SUPPLYING TRAINING TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE
INDIVIDUALS? AND I’M THINKING THAT IN HIGH
SCHOOL WE SHOULD START THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND START
GETTING ALL OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE HELPING
TRAINING IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO START GOING INTO OUR HIGH
SCHOOLS AND START EARLY ON INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR SOMEBODY
TO LEAVE HIGH SCHOOL BEFORE GIVING THEM THE TOOLS AND
METHODS TO BE ABLE TO WORK FOR THEMSELVES OR OPEN UP A
FRANCHISE OR TO GET JUST, YOU KNOW — TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE
BOX ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO AND WE SHOULD START IN HIGH
SCHOOL TO DO THAT.>>CITY COUNCIL. AS MAYOR, THAT’S AN ENTITY THAT
YOU WORK WITH QUITE A BIT. I’M SURE YOU’RE NO STRANGER TO
THE FACT THAT MAYOR SARNO AND THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL HAVE
CLASHED OVER SEVERAL ISSUES RECENTLY. IS THERE AN ISSUE THAT YOU LOOK
AT AND YOU SEE THAT MAYOR SARNO DIFFERED WITH THE COUNCIL, YOU
SEE HOW HE HANDLED IT AND YOU LOOK AT IT AND SAY I WOULD HAVE
HANDLED ISSUE X. DIFFERENTLY?>>YES. I DEFINITELY WOULDN’T USE THE
CITY FACEBOOK WEBSITE TO ATTACK MY ELECTED OFFICIALS. I WOULD NEVER DO THAT. I WOULD DEFINITELY — MY PITCH
IS ALWAYS TO START WITH A CONVERSATION AND HOPEFULLY ENDS
WITH A SOLUTION. AND I THINK THAT THAT’S WHERE
THEY DIFFER. THEY’RE NOT COMING TO THE TABLE
TO ACTUALLY HAVE A CONVERSATION. IT’S MORE LIKE THE BICKERING AND
ONE SAYS I’M GOING TO — WELL, I’M GOING TO FILE A PAPER TO GO
AGAINST THIS, I’M GOING TO FIRE THIS AND I’M GOING TO VETO THIS,
AND IT’S LIKE A CONSTANT, BUT OUR RESIDENTS ARE LOOKING AT
THIS LIKE, THEY’RE LIKE TWO SIBLINGS ARGUING AND WHEN IS
SOMEBODY GOING TO GET ALONG SO WE CAN GET THINGS DONE? SO MY GOAL IS NOT TO FIGHT LIKE
THAT. AND IT’S TO ASK WHAT COULD WE DO
TO MAKE OUR CITY BETTER? WHAT IS IT THAT CITY COUNCIL —
BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY, CITY COUNCIL HAS A VOTER FOLLOWING. THEY’RE DOING WHAT THEIR VOTERS
ARE ASKING THEM. WE SHOULD BE HAVING THE SAME
VOTERS, IT’S THE SAME PEOPLE. IT’S OUR VOTERS IN OUR CITY. SO I NEED TO WORK WITH MY CITY
COUNCIL TO MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE PROBABLY NOT ALWAYS GOING TO GET
ALONG, BUT DEFINITELY ATTACKING EACH OTHER? PUBLICLY AND IT LOOKS TASTELESS. AND I WOULDN’T WANT TO BE LIKE
THAT WHATSOEVER.>>A MOMENT AGO, YOU MENTIONED
WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO MAKE THE CITY BETTER, THAT QUESTION. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT RESIDENTS
HAVE BEEN SHOWING OTHER RESIDENTS HERE IN SPRINGFIELD,
THEY WANT ACTION AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE. WE SAW A PROTEST A FEW WEEKS AGO
AT COURT SQUARE. HOW WOULD YOU HAVE RESPONDED TO
THAT PROTEST, CALLING FOR ACTION AROUND THE IDEA OF CLIMATE
CHANGE?>>WELL, CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL,
DESPITE OF WHAT OUR HIGHER UPS MIGHT THINK. CLIMATE CHANGE, WE SEE IT WITH
PUERTO RICO. WE SEE IT WITH THE CARIBBEAN. WE SEE IT, AND IT’S, COMING UP
UP HERE. WE’VE SEEN IT WHEN THE TORNADO
HITS SPRINGFIELD, WHICH WE THOUGHT WOULD BE UNHEARD OF,
RIGHT? FOR A TORNADO TO JUST SPIKE UP
HERE AND THEN COME THROUGH, BUT WE SEE CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. I WOULD BE SITTING WITH
ORGANIZERS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE TO SAY HEY, WHAT IS IT AS THE
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, WHAT COULD WE DO? AND I WOULD LIKE TO DEFINITELY,
AS MAYOR, WHEN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ENVIRONMENT, ARE WE
DISPOSING OF TRASH THE WAY WE SHOULD? IS IT PROPERLY DISPOSED? IS BONDY’S ISLAND DOING WHAT WE
NEED WHEN IT COMES TO AIR? IS OUR WATER DEPARTMENT DOING
WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR PIPELINES ARE
CLEAN AND ALL THESE THINGS HAVE TO DO WITH OUR HEALTH, HAVE TO
DO WITH OUR BODY. I HAVE SEVEN GRANDCHILDREN AND
THEY ARE MY FOCUS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE HEALTHY AND OKAY. AND THE ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE TO
WORK WITH ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE ALREADY DOING THE WORK.
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