Brockton candidates must live in city for year first

BROCKTON — You wanna run for office in Brockton? You gotta live here for a year first.

That’s the gist of a proposal passed by the city council that needs approval on Beacon Hill before it becomes law.

“In the past years we’ve had several people who say they live in Brockton, but we know they didn’t,” the city’s election chief, Cynthia Scrivani, said at a recent finance committee meeting to hammer out the proposal.

Her examples will be familiar if you pay attention to Brockton politics: Mark Lawton (Bridgewater), Kimberly A. Bobulis (Whitman) and, most recently, Hamilton Rodrigues (Canton).

“I would like to prevent some of what I call the ‘Lawton Effect’ so that we don’t have to deal with people that don’t really live in the city and they just say they own a property so now I live there and then they run for mayor,” Scrivani said.

Judge Mark Lawton in 2019: ‘I’m moving back to Brockton to run for mayor’

Home rule petition goes to Beacon Hill

City councilors unanimously approved the move at their April 8 meeting. The proposal now goes to the state legislature as a “home rule petition.” That process can take months or more than a year. In Boston, which files numerous such petitions each year, successful ones took an average of 10 months, according to Boston City Council staff analysis cited by the Boston Globe. Boston’s success rate is about 50%, the same report found.

The Brockton City council’s in-house lawyer told councilors they’d need to use a home rule petition instead of a local ordinance because of how Brockton’s charter is written. Moises Rodrigues, an at-large councilor and former mayor, started the proposal.

“Prior to this we had nothing on the books and there was nothing we could do,” Rodrigues said.

The proposal would apply not only to candidates for mayor but also hopefuls for city council and school committee. Current rules allow people to pull nomination papers to run for Brockton offices the same day they register to vote in the city.

Hamilton Rodrigues in 2023: Running for Brockton mayor but where does he live?

What would Brockton residency bill do?

The language being sent to Beacon Hill reads: “Every mayor, city councilor and school committee member who is elected to represent an individual ward, or at-large, as the case may be, shall have been an inhabitant of a place within the ward, or for the positions of mayor or councilor-at-large shall have been an inhabitant of a place within the city of Brockton, for which he is chosen for election for at least one year immediately preceding his election, and shall cease to represent such ward or city for the positions of mayor or councilor-at-large when he shall cease to be an inhabitant thereof.”

That means if you wanted to run for mayor, city council or school committee in the November 2025 city election, you’d have to establish residency in November 2024, assuming the state House of Representatives and Senate approve the measure by November 2024.

“This has been long awaited,” said Ward 7 City Councilor Shirley Asack.

As of Thursday, Brockton had three local bills awaiting approval on Beacon Hill, according to the legislature’s website.

‘Nothing short of lifechanging’ Brockton students outraged over plan to slash DEI office

Hamilton Rodrigues said he lived on a couch

During Hamilton Rodrigues’ unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2023, Cynthia Scrivani, the city’s election chief, sent inspectors to George’s Restaurant, which he owns, when he put his residence as sleeping on the couch there. Rodrigues then changed his residency to a small single-family home on Chamberlain Court behind the restaurant. But then the city got a letter from the Canton town clerk saying Rodrigues lived in that town — and Brockton removed him from its list of registered voters. Rodrigues accused the city of trying to sabotage his campaign but Scrivani said he would triggered the change himself through some kind of interaction with a state agency.

What’s the ‘Lawton effect’?

In 2019, retired judge Mark Lawton made the ballot for the preliminary election for mayor following the death of Mayor Bill Carpenter. Lawton at the time said he had moved back to an apartment in his native Brockton after living in Bridgewater since the 1990s in order to run. In the end, voters made their own decision. Lawton, a friend of and advisor to Carpenter, placed fourth after eventual winner and current Mayor Robert F. Sullivan, Jimmy L. Pereira and Jean Bradley Derenoncourt.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at CHelms@enterprisenews.com or connect on X at @HelmsNews.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.