Rivera works to improve economic development
Date: 8/30/2011Aug. 31, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing EditorEditor’s note: This is the first profile in a series about the non-incumbent at-large candidates for City Council.
SPRINGFIELD In the race for the at-large city councilor positions, there are some familiar names among the challengers and Amaad Rivera is one of them.
Unlike his fellow candidates, Rivera is well known for already being a city councilor, representing Ward 6. He is leaving that post to run for the new office because he believes the issues “are really city-wide.”
Rivera recently spoke to Reminder Publications about his work assisting a new Save-A-Lot grocery store to obtain the permits the company needs to open a new store in the former Goodwill on Sumner Avenue. His legislation to help the city cope with foreclosed homes was also recently passed by the City Council. That legislature has attracted interest from members of Congress, he added.
“That’s the kind of stuff I’m really excited about doing as a city councilor,” he said.
Rivera is committed to ward representation, though, and said, “I think it’s really sad that no one wanted to run in Ward 6.”
Former School Committee member Kenneth Shea is the sole candidate for the office.
“I’m a huge proponent of ward representation,” he added.
Rivera said the new grocery store would help residents of Forest Park with “greater access to healthy foods.” He added that grocery stores have been shown to be generators of economic growth in a community.
Save-A-Lot is a national chain with 1,200 outlets across the country. The company already has two stores in Springfield. This store, Rivera noted, will look differently than the others and be built differently.
He praised the Save-A-Lot management for their cooperation and willingness to work with members of the council and the neighborhood. The company has committed to creating a façade to the building that will reflect the neighborhood and will be adding murals as well.
Between the construction of the store and its operation, about 100 jobs will be created, he said. The construction jobs will have hiring requirements for city residents as well as women and people of color.
Rivera sees increasing the number of jobs in the city as an effective way to reduce crime. He said that Forest Park, for example, has no economic development plan, which is a topic that the City Council should engage.
“Instead we have conversations about trash fees, not how to rebuild,” he noted.
Rivera did make news recently with a story about irregularities over his reports on campaign finance. Only receiving a $100 fine from state election officials, Rivera called the late filings “much ado about nothing” and he apologized to voters for the confusion.
His legislative efforts have won him praise from residents he meets while campaigning.
“A lot of what I’m doing is to solve problems people have identified; problems not that complicated” he explained.
His election Web site is www.amaadrivera.com