By Marc Larocque
As Published by the Brockton Enterprise
BROCKTON – He came to Brockton less than seven years ago from Haiti, following a massive earthquake which devastated the country in 2010. Then, in February last year, he became a U.S. citizen. And, on Tuesday, he was elected to his first position in public office.
At 27 years old, Jean Bradley Derenoncourt was elected on Tuesday to become the next new councilor-at-large serving on the Brockton City Council. Derenoncourt is the first ever Haitian-American elected to the City Council in Brockton, which has a large Haitian-American community.
“It’s a historic moment for Brockton,” said Derenoncourt, speaking to The Enterprise on Tuesday. “The next move is to represent each and every Brocktonian to the best of our ability.”
With 5,250 votes cast in his favor, Derenoncourt picked up one of four councilor-at-large positions that were up for a citywide vote, coming in behind the three incumbents who were re-elected. (Councilor-at-large Shaynah Barnes decided not to run again in this year’s election, following two terms in office.)
Derenoncourt, a graduate student studying political science at Suffolk University, said the election victory was the culmination of months of hard work by his team of diverse volunteers. In order to run the campaign full-time, Derenoncourt recently took a leave of absence from his job as a staff member for state Sen. Michael Brady, D-Brockton. Derenoncourt and his team continued to work to get out the vote on Tuesday night, frantically making reminder calls, in a second-floor office next to Stop and Shop on Belmont Street.
“On my own, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Derenoncourt said. “Because of the people I know and the people who believe in me, I was fortunate to be able to build a wonderful team.”
Derenoncourt said that the Haitian-American community in Brockton would likely be happy to have someone who can speak Haitian Creole on the City Council. Derenoncourt said his election is a victory for diversity in the city.
“It is a moment of togetherness for all of us,” said Derenoncourt, adding that he will also try to represent the younger people of Brockton. “What I can tell you is I believe in Brockton. Brockton is the place that opened the door for me. Brockton is the place that gave me hope. And I will do my best for the young people, and everyone in Brockton.”
City Council President Robert Sullivan was voted back into office once again, re-elected for the sixth time, besting all other councilor-at-large candidates with 6,111 ballots cast in his favor. Moises Rodrigues was re-elected for his third two-year term, picking up 5,616 votes. And former Brockton mayor Winthrop Farwell was re-elected to his second term on the Brockton City Council, after earning 5,376 votes on Tuesday.
There was a 25.2 percent voter turnout, with 12,715 ballots cast out of a total 50,477 registered voters.
Failing to make the cut for councilor-at-large was Jacob Tagger, coming in fifth with 3,491 votes, followed by Gary Keith Sr., William Hogan and Scott Hall.
The only other new face on the Brockton City Council is Susan Nicastro, who won the Ward 4 seat, which was left open by the retiring Paul Studenski. Nicastro, an attorney and a former Brockton Planning Board member, picked up 1,029 votes to defeat political newcomer Derek Barros, who earned 656 votes in his favor. It was the second time in a row that Nicastro ran for a position on the 11-seat Brockton City Council, after she ran unsuccessfully for councilor-at-large in 2015.
Nicastro thanked Barros for a hard fought race.
“It was my pleasure to meet Derek Barros, who appears to me to be a very kind and decent young man, and a future leader of our community,” Nicastro said. I hope he will not be discouraged by this evening’s loss, and gets involved in the city, because I think he lots to give and a lot of potential.”
Nicastro thanked her supporters, including her husband and two adult sons.
“I will work very hard to address the issues and concerns voters have raised to me as I’ve knocked on doors in so many parts of Ward 4,” Nicastro said.
In all other ward races, the incumbent city councilors were victorious. Timothy Cruise won unopposed; Ward 2 City Councilor Thomas Monahan picked up 65.2 percent of the vote to defeat Angel Cosme; Ward 3 City Councilor Dennis Eaniri won 56.5 percent to beat Tina Cardoso; Ward 5 City Councilor Annea Beauregard got 67.5 percent to beat Doryce Smith; John Lally got 70.3 percent to beat Joanne Zygmunt; and Shirley Asack won unopposed.