Confirming word from sources earlier tonight, community and political activist Ernesto Cruz of Mulberry Street in Springfield announced his run for an at-large City Council seat today. In a statement released earlier this morning, Cruz announced his campaign kickoff and fundraiser slated for March 30 at the Cedars Banquet Hall on Island Pond Road.
Cruz’s campaign committee was formed late last month and is thus far the first newcomer to the race to form a committee. Although incumbent councilors have held or are planning fundraisers and are expected to run, Cruz is the first to formally declare for the fall Council race. With the mayor now serving a four year term, the City Council election will stand on the ballot with only the School Committee, which also serves a four year term unlike the two year-term Council, but on a different schedule than the mayor.
— Ernesto Cruz (@callmenesto) March 7, 2013
In his release, Cruz, 28, credits his time in the life insurance business with pushing him into community service. “I realized that my success was directly tied to the success of the community and the network I had,” he says in the release. Shortly thereafter, he started getting involved with numerous social, political and community causes in the city. He has worked the Mason Square Health Task Force and the Springfield Community Air Mobilization Project among other organization in the city. His political experience includes work on mayoral campaigns and Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards’ State Senate campaign last year.
It is not yet known whether the ward races may be competitive, but several ward seats are thought to be contested this year. Additionally, as it stands all at-large councilors appear likely to run again leading to a rare circumstance in recent council history where all at-large incumbents (counting the old at-large system) could run for seats. That said, at least one or two of the at-large councilors might be vulnerable. Acknowledging his own lack of name recognition, Cruz’s release struck a defiant tone, “I’ve been involved with a lot of people at the grass roots level…[t]he people that know who I am are the ones that I’ve been in the trenches with.”