With less than two weeks to go before election day, both mayoral candidates, Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Councilor Peter Napolitano can be likened to sprinters in a hundred yard dash as they seek to get their message out to as many Everett voters as possible.
On Tuesday night, the two candidates squared off before more than 150 residents at a forum hosted by Multicultural Affairs Council (MAC) held at the Connolly Center. The questions were focused on the needs of Everett’s growing minority communities and how city policies can help them in their businesses and becoming an important part of the fabric of the Everett community.
Both candidates easily related to the needs of the newly arrived immigrants. DeMaria pointed out that his parents came from Italy as a young married couple and that their language was only Italian.
Napolitano told of how his grandparents came to Everett in 1920 after having left Italy.
DeMaria urged the immigrants to get involved in the community while noting that his office has started programs like adult education and citizenship classes to help Everett’s newest citizens. “We welcome all people who want to be Americans,” he said.
Napolitano also noted that Everett “needs people and that people must feel included.”
Another question centered on city policies that can help the burgeoning small business community that is being fueled by the newly arrived immigrants.
DeMaria pointed out several programs that his office has started like the Community Development Awning Program or the new bylaws and zoning changes that are geared towards helping small businesses. “As a small business owner, I know how difficult it is, we are there to help,” DeMaria added.
Napolitano called for a greater “partnership between government and business.” He noted that he had helped many small businesses with financing when he worked at the Bank of America.
Another question by MAC centered on having more city employees especially fire, police and city hall workers that are multi-lingual.
DeMaria noted that in City Hall there are many multi-lingual employees speaking Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. He also noted that he has hired police officers who are fluent in several languages.
“If we want people to take an interest in the community than we must make them meaningful part of the community,” Napolitano said. He noted that many boards and commissions are not reflective of Everett’s multi cultural community.
The last question by MAC centered on municipal Identification Cards for all residents. DeMaria said that he supports a national ID card and that he would want to work out the logistics of a municipal ID card with other elected official but added “this could work.”
Napolitano said there was no single answer and “it would have to benefit the community as a whole.”
The remaining part of the forum was opened to questions from the audience.