Carlos Antonio Ferreira Da Silva is the Vice Chair of the Hingham School Committee. He was elected in 2016 and reelected in April 2019. Carlos is the first ever Brazilian-American elected to public office in the United States. He and his family moved to Hingham in 2007, and he enjoys everything about our great town!
Hingham, meet Carlos.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
People ask what “A.F.” stands for in my name, so here it is: Carlos Antonio Ferreira Da Silva. I was born and raised until I was 12 years old in Nacip Raydan, Minas Gerais, Brazil. We moved to Governador Valadares where I lived until my 18th birthday. I am one of nine children and the third youngest. At the age of 18 with my parents' blessing, I came to the United States on my own without speaking the language. Four years later I met my best friend and wife, Rita. We adopted two beautiful babies from Brazil-- one in 1997 and the other in 1999 -- André and Edson. Rita was born and raised in Quincy. We lived in Quincy prior to moving to Hingham. I love to spend my free time working in my home and enjoying our backyard and traveling with my family. Family is everything to me! One of my passions is to be involved with the community where I can effect positive changes. Rita is very supportive of my volunteer work on the School Committee and other entities.
How long have you been on the School Committee?
Thanks to many volunteers, voters, and supporters, I have been serving on the School Committee for four years. Voters elected me in 2016 and again in 2019. However, I feel that I have been there for a lot longer. In 2015 I ran and did not win. With the encouragement of family and friends I ran again in 2016 and won. Prior to running, I attended several meetings and watched School Committee meetings on local cable TV.
Why did you run for School Committee initially and what means the most to you about serving on it?
I conducted workshops throughout Massachusetts on behalf of the Federation for Children with Special Needs & Parents Place. Because of my trilingual skills, the Federation had me conduct workshops in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, training parents on their children's rights to access public education. With that advocacy spirit, having a child with special needs and knowing firsthand that the services could be better, and after hearing the complaints of many parents who had children with special needs, I decided that with my broader perspective and diplomacy skills, I could make a difference and that is why I ran. We have been cordial and respectful toward one another. We went through so many changes in leadership and hired new teachers and staff. We also have some new members on the School Committee and they have been a great addition. Collectively we listen to the community and staff and work together to help make our school system a positive experience for everyone involved.
Why do you think getting a good education is important?
My father was a policeman and my mother was the principal of an elementary school and a teacher in Brazil. My parents instilled in me the importance of earning a great education. After high school I came to the United States. I did not speak English. Despite having three jobs, because I valued my upbringing I still found time to attend English Second Language Classes at Young Men's Christian Association--YMCA in Boston and the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers-MAPS in Cambridge. Twenty years later I returned to MAPS and served on its board of directors as treasurer, vice president, and president.
Later on while I was employed by the Service Employees International Union-SEIU, I attended Quincy College and worked toward earning an associate degree on nights and weekends. After Quincy College, SEIU provided me with a full scholarship to attend the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland, where I went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in Union Leadership and Administration. I had the honor of graduating Cum Laude, having my senior thesis showcased, and was chosen to be the commencement speaker of the Class of 2002.
How did you get involved with politics?
As a teenager in Brazil, one of my first jobs was working for a candidate for mayor in my city, distributing political pamphlets to residents in the street. When I was employed by SEIU, my boss selected me to represent SEIU as a member of the Executive Board of the Greater Boston Labor Council and Worcester-Framingham Labor Council. While serving on these councils, I had a great deal of interaction with municipal, state, and national politicians. We lived in Quincy, where I got involved with the Democratic Party and was elected chair of the Quincy Ward 2 Democratic Committee. When we moved to Hingham, I was elected chair of the Hingham Democratic Town Committee. Part of my job on the Democratic Committees was to promote the Democratic Party values and support candidates running for office in partisan races. Then came the time when I decided that with my character and work ethic, I would make a decent politician. I believe I have not taken voters for granted and will never do that! Many may not know this, but here is where Hingham became part of Brazil’s history in the making -- when I was elected to the School Committee in 2016, I became the first Brazilian-American ever to be elected to public office in the United States.
How long have you been a Hingham resident and what do you like best about the town?
We moved to Hingham in 2007. I personally like everything about Hingham. I love the historical aspect of this small town. I like the people, the local restaurants, and stores, and I enjoy meeting with the Hinghamites who share the town's stories with me. Despite living here for just over a decade, I feel as if I have been living in Hingham for many years.
Favorite local spot?
Besides my backyard, I enjoy getting food at the Hingham Lobster Pound and eating it at the Bathing Beach. I am also a Trustee of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in Hingham. I enjoy attending our monthly social meetings, where the food is freshly-prepared by volunteers and is always delicious.
If you had a different career, what would it be?
I have been blessed to have had so many wonderful opportunities serving in various capacities. I have a great job now that I really enjoy as a State Auditor with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. I get to travel throughout the Bristol/Plymouth and Norfolk Counties. I also love my volunteer job serving on the School Committee. I want to eventually get more involved with my municipal/county government. However, I am open-minded and still have many years to go before retiring, so I will keep my options open.
What did becoming a United States citizen mean to you in 1999 and what has it come to mean to you over the years?
As soon I qualified to earn my America citizenship I applied. Being a citizen gave me the sense of belonging and having the same rights as those who were born here. I knew then and I know now how imperative that would become and is in my life. I have the privilege of being a citizen to two great nations. Not many foreigners can maintain dual citizenship. I can seek federal jobs, run for higher office, and enjoy what this great nation has to offer all of us while also being a productive member of society.
What's next: We heard you are running for Plymouth County Commissioner. Can you tell something about your plans along these lines. If you win, will you continue with your SC work?
First and foremost, I am grateful for the citizens of Hingham for electing me twice. I intend to serve my full second term with the same passion as I have served during my first term. I am so fortunate to have so many great friends and supporters. The Plymouth County Commissioner election is not until November of 2020. I am fully aware of my responsibilities serving on the School Committee and will not neglect my duties. As a state employee and as a municipal volunteer and potentially a county-paid employee, I will have to follow the State Ethics Commission guidelines and make sure that I disclose all my activities and abide by its regulations. So yes! After consulting with my wife and close friends, I have decided that based on my experience with budgets, facilities management, contract negotiations, and labor management relations, and also my interpersonal skills, I would be honored to represent Hingham serving as one of the three Plymouth County Commissioners.
I recognize the challenge ahead. Overall I will have to campaign in 27 towns from Hingham to Plymouth to Brockton. However, after immigrating to a new land on my own; learning two new languages; going through the process of adopting two children; and dealing with bureaucratic international laws along with the continued support of my family and friends, I know that there is a likelihood that I could win!