Third-generation Swansea resident A. Keith Carreiro officially kicked off his campaign for the 4th Bristol District seat in the state House of Representatives with an event at Rosasharn Farm in Rehoboth. The lone Democrat in the race will face incumbent Republican in the November general election.
The district includes Seekonk, Rehoboth, two Norton precincts and portions of Swansea.
Carreiro, a Harvard-educated teacher who is serving a second term on the Swansea School Committee, spoke with Patch prior to the campaign event.
The 4th Bristol District includes Seekonk, Rehoboth, two Norton precincts and portions of Swansea.
Patch: Why are you running?
A. Keith Carreiro: To be short and precise, I'm running because I care about the quality of life in the district and I'm here both to preserve it and bring it into the future.
Patch: Could you be a little more specific?
Carreiro: We have basically four issues that we are dealing with, but they are also seamlessly intertwined with one another. The first is the economy. The second is the environment, all "e's". The third is education. And we step away from the "e" and go to "v" with our veterans.
Patch: How are you qualified to be this district's representative?
Carreiro: I have collaborative skills, organizational skills, communicational skills and experience putting together coalitions of people to get things done because one person cannot do it alone. We need to have groups of people do it. Plus, I've been in education for over 40 years and I've helped students attain their dreams, no reason in the world why I can't help communities do the same.
Patch: Have you been planning to run for this position for some time or was it a sudden decision?
Carreiro: It's been a long time coming. I just wanted to make sure I was ready to do it, and I talked with a lot of people. About four years ago, I talked with [former state Rep.] Phil Travis and said, "You know, this really interests me." And I guess I peaked his curiosity because whenever he saw me, he said, "Are you running? Why haven't you been running yet?"
I felt I just wasn't ready. There was one final duck that had to go in the row, and that duck was service to the community in Swansea on the elected position of school committee. I'm on my second term. In the first term, second year, I was the vice chair. The last year of the first term, I was the chair. And we just did remarkable stuff there that's never been done before.
Patch: On your website, you stress how you have years of experience in education. How will that benefit you as a state representative and the people of this district?
Carreiro: I will be able to see things that I can as a researcher, as a professor, as a teacher and as a local civil servant. This brings me to a position that's very pivotal for me to use all those skills I've learned.
I haven't just been a teacher in a classroom, I've been a teacher in a whole community. As a professor, when you go for tenure, you're responsible for proving to a tenure committee that you not only teach well, but that you also have original, creative scholarship that serves people and also that you have service to the community. So, I'm steeped in that understanding.
I'm a third-generation Swansea resident. Growing up here, I've learned an awful lot about the area that I don't think anyone else could outside that area. My mother was born in Rehoboth in a family home. My family has a deep love for the natural surroundings. Again, that's part of the platform, to protect and preserve [turns toward the farm] these spaces that are becoming more and more rare. These people deserve every break they can get. Because if we don't have people doing this, we don't eat. And we don't eat very well. It's amazing how Wall Street gets all the breaks; how about giving the breaks to these people?
Patch: Is there something flawed with how Steven Howitt has served that the people should vote him out and bring you in?
Carreiro: I think that people need choice, first of all. This is a democracy. I saw that he did not have anybody running against him, so I felt that right there was a sign for me I had to get in, considering I was hearing that mission bell ring. I think you need choice. He represents a Republican perspective. I represent not just a Democratic perspective, but I believe I'm bringing in an independence that has not been seen before—a new vision and new ideas that have not been used before. I think people in this district are smart enough to know that they are not just voting for a party, they are voting for the individual.
Patch: Steven Howitt has a large base of supporters, how are you going to be able to compete with that?
Carreiro: It is always a challenge to go up against an incumbent. I think I'm going to win no matter what. If the vote is against me, I'm still going to win. I don't see how I could possibly lose because I am learning what I'm learning and putting people together who really haven't been put together before. I also think in looking at the vote and the research that we've done, with the presidential election coming, I have a really good chance to win. And I think once people hear what I have to say, they're going to consider it seriously.