Evandro Carvalho is a former prosecutor in Roxbury and graduate of UMass Amherst and law school at Howard University. He has lived in Dorchester since he immigrated to this country at age 15 from Santiago, Cape Verde.
At age 32, Carvalho is the youngest among the candidates vying for the Fifth Suffolk House seat.Although he has a lot of support from his Cape Verdean neighbors and beyond, Carvalho said he has a lot of work to do to ensure a win in the April 1 primary.
“I think we are the underdog,” he said.
Carvalho said he decided to run because it is his duty to be a public servant and an example for children in his district to follow.
He is running to fill the spot left vacant by the expulsion of Carlos Henriquez, who is serving time in jail on assault and battery charges.
If elected, Carvalho would look to fix the misconceptions that people have about the Bowdoin-Geneva area and sometimes appear in news outlets, he said, citing parts of the 2012 Boston Globe series on the neighborhood as an example.
“The community was outraged with the story,” he said. “We need to highlight some of the positive, too.”
He cites the timing of the race – happening as winter is turning into spring – as one of the biggest challenges he is facing during his campaign.
“Everybody’s qualified. I just think that my unique background … from the pool of candidates and my age gives us a fresh start,” he said.
Carvalho said he is hoping to mobilize young voters through his social media campaign and through public standouts on the streets, despite what he calls a low turnout during special elections.
“We want to motivate people who otherwise don’t care about local elections,” he said.
Carvalho said he identifies with people from both Dorchester and Roxbury, the areas he will be representing if elected to the House. He attended Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury while living on Draper Street in Dorchester.
Aside from an endorsement from the former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and U.S. Attorney, Wayne Budd, Carvalho said he has a small team of 10 core people based out of his campaign office at 268 Bowdoin Street. He also has the backing of Isaura Mendes, who has become a vocal activist since losing her two sons to gang-related violence in the Uphams Corner section of Dorchester.
Carvalho said his high school English teacher Judith Baker is also supporting him. He described Baker as his “second mom.” Carvalho said that Baker helped him stay out of trouble during high school and helped him with his college and law school application essays.
Prior to returning to Boston in 2010, Carvalho worked in the litigation department at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. He decided to take a pay cut to return to Dorchester.
“I felt something inside of me was empty. The most fulfilling job I had was as a prosecutor,” he said.
Carvalho is hoping to make opportunities better for people in Dorchester and Roxbury if he’s elected, citing lack of education, violence, and housing displacement as issues he’d like to tackle.
Looking for courage to get through each day on the campaign trail, Carvalho looks to four objects hanging on his office wall: a picture of Amilcar Cabral, the father of Cape-Verdean independence; a photograph of his father Antonio Carvalho, who was killed in a car accident when he was nine; a poster of prominent African-American leaders, and a quote from the Bible.
“No matter what happens [in the primary], I will be at peace. It is God’s will,” Carvalho said.