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Equitable Representation in Haverhill's Local Government

Haverhill is one of the last cities in Massachusetts to still have an all at-large election system for all municipal officials. This means that each city councilor and school committee member represents the whole city, versus a particular district or neighborhood. These types of systems are known to raise significant barriers to non-traditional candidates that must campaign citywide, as opposed to a neighborhood. For example, there are neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color in Haverhill, but there is not one municipal elected official of color. 
Rep. Vargas supports moving the city to a hybrid model with at-large and district city councilors and school committee members, in order to ensure representation that is reflective our city. He hosted a forum with the community in January, which you can read about here

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Founded Haverhill Promise, City-Wide Reading Initiative

In 2018 Rep. Vargas helped lead an effort to launch a citywide campaign to focus on early literacy, Haverhill Promise. In Haverhill, the majority of students are not meeting grade-level reading by the end of the 3rd grade. This is particularly true for students of color and low-income students. Since launching in 2018, Haverhill Promise now has a full-time director working on equity in literacy every day. Rep. Vargas has continued to be involved in book distribution and fostering community partnerships to carry out the mission of early literacy for all in Haverhill. 

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Reducing Recidivism in Haverhill Youth– UTEC

UTEC's mission is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. In 2018, Rep. Vargas worked with city and state leadership to bring UTEC to Haverhill. While 52% of MA young adults are re-arraigned within a year of coming out of jail, 88% of UTEC young adults had no new arrests while enrolled in their programming.
UTEC engages in direct streetwork, workfoce development, and wrap around services. 

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State Funding to Support Equity in Haverhill 

The Power of Self Education (POSE) is a Haverhill based and black-led nonprofit that focuses on issues of equity, the school to prison pipeline, and community engagement. Rep. Vargas secured $25,000 in state support for POSE (Power of Self Learning). In 2019, Rep. Vargas organized a Latino small business tour in Haverhill with elected officials and the Haverhill Chamber. We heard great feedback and a call for support. Working together with the Haverhill Chamber and the City of Haverhill, $95,000 was secured through the state's Urban Agenda grant to provide technical assistance, survey and support minority-owned businesses in Haverhill. Massachusetts also ranks #1 in Latino homelessness in the U.S.– Rep. Vargas has secured $65,000 in annual state funding for Emmaus Inc. homeless shelter in Haverhill. 

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Local Civic Engagement Work

We view the role of our office as not only to focus on legislation and policy but to serve as a convenor and facilitator of civic dialogue and initiatives. Rep. Vargas has organized movie screenings for films like 13th, facilitated discussions on changing the city charter, and participated in citywide conversations about race, alongside the Power of Self Education (POSE), and the Haverhill Police Dept. 
Right now we're focused on Census Outreachwith the Mt. Washington Alliance. We need everyone in Haverhill to fill out their census in order to maximize funding and ensure that every resident in our community counts. 

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