Evandro Carvalho believes his campaign for Suffolk County District Attorney is picking up momentum with just under three months to go before the Democratic primary is held on Sept. 4.
“It’s an honor to be running, to get to know the various communities in Suffolk County, and I believe we have a great shot to win this election,” said Carvalho, who has been a state representative in the Fifth Suffolk District (Dorchester, Roxbury) for four years.
Carvalho, 36, is a former assistant district attorney who worked for 2 ½ years in current Suffolk County DA Dan Conley’s office prosecuting gun cases in court.
Carvalho has received a number of endorsements from the Suffolk County delegation in the House of Representatives.
“My colleagues in the House know my heart, they know my passion to serve our community and they know the experiences that I’ve had, particularly as a former assistant district attorney who was one of the leaders in pushing for the criminal justice reform that we just enacted in April,” said Carvalho. “They understand that I’m the best person to go and implement those changes to improve the law.”
Carvalho feels his experience as an assistant DA and state representative and his record of service to the community set a strong foundation to his bid for the Suffolk County DA position.
“I think it’s time for someone like me, who knows the particular communities – whether it’s the youth, the people dealing with substance abuse issues or mental health issues – who has been fighting for those affected by these issues – to serve the people of Suffolk County as their next district attorney,” said Carvalho.
Originally from Cape Verde
Carvalho was raised on his grandparents’ farm in Cape Verde (islands), which is a nation off the west coast of Africa.
“I learned how to work hard and I also learned the value of education,” he said.
Carvalho came to the United States when he was 15 years old to join his mother (Ana), who was already residing in Dorchester. Fluent in Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese, he learned how to speak English and enrolled at Madison Park High School in Boston. He became a top student academically, graduating in 1999.
He continued his education at UMass/Amherst, focusing on Legal Studies and Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in African American Studies, graduating in 2004. He enrolled at Howard University Law School, receiving his law degree in 2008.
“One of the reasons I chose Howard was that I was inspired by Thurgood Marshall, who was an alumnus and the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice,” said Carvalho. “He made such an impact on American history. The legacy he provided for us at Howard was so admirable.”
He became a citizen of the United States in 2008 and his first vote was for Barack Obama for President.
“I remember how excited the people were that Obama was elected as president,” said Carvalho. “That was one of the important moments in my life, and it inspired me to serve – that I, too, could be someone that helps move our society forward and becomes a unifier like Obama was, a leader who brought America together.”
Serving as an assistant ADA
After working at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington, D.C., he returned to Boston in 2011 and became an assistant district attorney in Dan Conley’s office. He said he learned a lot in that position and always tried to help people improve their lives and get back on the right path.
“You see the same families cycling though the criminal justice system, dealing with substance abuse issues and other issues,” said Carvalho. “These are real people, not just another folder and another number. I understood their situation because I grew up in those neighborhoods. That inspired me to run for office, to become a state representative and change that system, to be able to do more to break the cycle of individuals going in and out of jail without a way out.”
A focus on criminal
justice in the House
As a state representative for the past four years, he has focused his efforts on improving the state’s criminal justice system.
“And together with the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and the work of my colleagues and advocates throughout the state, we were able to accomplish the criminal justice reforms that nobody thought we could,” said Carvalho.
He is also committed to the continuing battle against the opiod crisis in Massachusetts.
“The opioid crisis is one of the most important issues right now,” said Carvalho. “The system, as a whole, has not dealt adequately with the individuals affected by this crisis. As the vice-chair of the public health committee and someone who has visited various neighborhoods, I see too many citizens dying from this epidemic. I intend to fight this through a public health lens and focus upon treatment for people. And instead of drug addicts going to jail, let’s get them in drug treatment facilities and focus on programs to help them get long-term treatment. We need to expand the drug court programs in Suffolk County. Make no mistake, the people that need to go to prison will go to prison, but let’s emphasize diversion programs as well.”
Hopes to bring accountability and transparency to the DA’s office
Carvalho said his plan as DA will be to bring “accountability, transparency, and diversity” to the DA’s office.
“I will make sure that the staff at the DA’s office receives adequate training and that we expand the capabilities of the victim witness advocates,” said Carvalho. “The reality is that the victims of crimes need a voice. We need to do more for them and build a relationship between the DA’s office and our communities ahead of time so they feel comfortable working with the office.”
Carvalho said throughout his life he has been able to “bring people together” for the good of the community.
“We need someone that’s going to come in and try to bring people together,” said Carvalho. “I want to start a sports tournament where different communities compete and the teams are made up of youths from different neighborhoods. I want to bring the next generation of youths together from the different parts of Suffolk County. The youth are our future and this will go a long way toward healing our communities and bringing us together. We are all Americans and we all want the same thing. My goal is to be a voice for all.”