By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Rosa E. Pina wants to take her community organizing skills one step further by representing District A on the Lawrence City Council.
“By being elected to the City Council, I’ll have the proper tools to help my community even more,” Pina said.
“I want to be the voice of those who can’t express how they feel, don’t know where to get what they need,” she said. “It’s so important to be that link between residents and the city ordinances.”
She is running against incumbent Sandy E. Almonte of 33 Woodland St.
District A is located in the northeast corner of Lawrence, known as Prospect Hill/Back Bay. The neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city, dotted with stately homes. Close to the Lawrence/Methuen line, Prospect Hill Prospect, Ferry, Knox, Berkeley as well as the Spicket River and Route 495. It is home to Rollins School and Engine 6, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The architecture and the rich history of the city impressed me and made me fall in love with Lawrence,” she said.
Pina, lives at 24 Brooks St., a street known for its criminal, gang and drug activities.
“We need to have more police presence in the area and create a neighborhood watch,” she said.
She said talking to residents, especially youngsters would also help.
“Children always need someone who can listen to them. When you invest in them and make them feel useful, you can change their minds,” she said.
Pina has rallied teenagers for neighborhood clean-ups and talked to them about the importance of recycling and taking care of the environment.
“I like the challenge and instead of running away from the problem, you have to face it ,which is how you make a difference,” she said.
Last month, Mayor William Lantigua raised property taxes by 2.5 percent in his proposed $237.2 million budget for the new fiscal year. The proposal meant 31 firefighters who would have been laid off when the grant that paid for their salaries ran out in August, would stay on the payroll through June 30, 2014.
“I’m not totally for it, but you have to see the pros and cons and make the best decision,” Pina said. “Unfortunately it’s a measure a city has to make to keep public safety going.”
Pina said it is also important to educate residents on why taxes are being raised.
“In the short run, it may not be the best results, but you have to see the bigger picture. You have to analyze what the benefits will be and make a decision as a group and what is best for the city,” she said.
Pina would like to see more businesses coming to Lawrence.
“Having more businesses would be vital to the city, not just because it employs local people, it generates revenue and helps the economy,” she said.
Pina said it’s important to help small business owners.
“They are the backbone of the city because it shows it’s making progress and becoming stable. That’s what we want in Lawrence, not just because no one has to leave the city to work, but the revenue stays here,” she said.
Pina was born and raised in Venezuela of Dominican parents. She first moved to Lawrence in 1989, then moved to Florida in 2000. She returned to the city in 2010. She has a bachelor’s degree in health science from Hodges University, Naples, Fla. and a certificate as a medical assistant.
Pina is outreach and events manager at Groundwork Lawrence for the past two years. She also manages the farmer’s market run by the non profit organization from July through October.
Pina has three children, Veronica, a psychology student at Northeastern University; Rosa Maria, who is pursing an associate degree in biology at Northern Essex Community College and Rafael, also a student at NECC, who will be transferring to University of Massachusetts, Lowell to study engineering.
Pina is one of the founders of We Are Lawrence, is treasurer of the Hispanic Week Festival, 2013, is on the board of Lawrence Community Works, the Bread and Roses Centennial Committee and the Greater Lawrence Young Professional Network.
”What I can bring to the council is professional ethics. In a committee where you’re not in accordance with a vote, you do not have to go with who presented the proposal, but how it benefits the city and its residents,” Pina said.