Roberto Jimenez-Rivera has made a noteworthy impact during his two years on the School Committee and in the three years he has called Chelsea home.
The 31-year-old organizer for the Boston Teachers Union is hoping to continue those important contributions to the city at the state level. In a major announcement Tuesday, Jimenez-Rivera said he will be a candidate for the newly created 11th Suffolk seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Jimenez-Rivera is the first local candidate to announce in the new district that includes all of Chelsea and one precinct in Everett.
“I am running because the people of Chelsea and Everett deserve a state rep who will lift our voices in Beacon Hill and who won’t settle for small fixes to the urgent issues we face,” Jimenez-Rivera said in a press release.
First Elected to Committee in 2019
Roberto Jimenez-Rivera ran for the at-large seat on the Chelsea School Committee in November 2019, defeating Shawn O’Regan, who is now the District 1 member of the School Committee. He was the top vote getter citywide in that election and was re-elected this past November with 67 percent of the vote.
“It  was a really great campaign, where I was knocking doors and talking to voters for two or three months,” recalled Jimenez-Rivera. “I knocked close to 1,200 doors myself. My wife Sarah knocked on another 500, and I had a few friends who volunteered. But it was important to me that we got to know as many people as we could, talk with people about why I care about our schools, and share the work I had done already in education. People were really excited to have somebody come talk with them about these important issues.”
Purchasing a Home in Chelsea
Jimenez-Rivera and his wife, Sarah, had moved to Chelsea in 2019. He had earlier become acquainted with other residents of the city through his volunteer work on Ayanna Pressley’s congressional campaign.
“We had been looking for a home somewhere we could eventually raise kids in an area that reflected my cultural background and the values that Sarah and I share,” said Jimenez-Rivera. “We came here, and you hear Spanish being spoken and it’s a normal thing, and it felt very much like home. That was one of the first things that we really loved about the city. We continued getting to know folks and realized how amazing this community is.”
“The values of this community, being so welcoming and here for working-class families, it’s something I’ve loved about Chelsea since I got here, and something I hope to keep lifting as we run this campaign and continue living here,” said Jimenez-Rivera.
Originally from Puerto Rico
Roberto Jimenez-Rivera was born in Norwood while his mother was a student at the Massachusetts College of Art.
“My parents [Roberto and Maribel] lived in Mission Hill and then they moved to Norwood when my mom was still in college,” he said. “She was a college student and a mom, while my dad worked odd jobs here and there. He was a security guard, then worked at a factory, and then at Bertucci’s in Cambridge. After my mom graduated, they decided to move back to Puerto Rico because they wanted me to grow up around family.”
Jimenez-Rivera grew up in Manati, Puerto Rico until his graduation from high school. He then enrolled at the University of Michigan where he studied for six years, receiving his undergraduate degree in 2012 and his master’s degree in 2013.
Following graduate school, he moved to Massachusetts in 2014.
Advocating for a Chelsea State Rep Seat
Jimenez-Rivera said through his job at the Boston Teachers Union he was part of the Drawing Democracy Coalition that advocated for establishing a new Chelsea district in the House of Representatives and other “districts of opportunity” across Massachusetts.
“We were working to give working-class families and people of color, people that have been underrepresented in our state politics for a long time – the best opportunity to elect people of their choice,” said Jimenez-Rivera.
Among his many accomplishments, Jimenez-Rivera organized 125 leaders from gateway cities across Massachusetts to push for state funding for the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).
“To me, it’s about doing the work inside the building and outside the building – so really doing the work in the School Committee deliberations, but also pushing our elected officials to do the right thing and to organize in the community,” said Jimenez-Rivera.
Campaign Kickoff Set for Jan. 25
Jimenez-Rivera is launching his campaign having raised over $27K in preparation for this race and will be holding a virtual campaign kickoff event on Jan. 25. He is assembling a campaign team of advisers, many of whom are leaders in Chelsea and Everett.
“We’re really excited to launch and start talking to the people about what we can achieve when we work together.” said Jimenez-Rivera.
Roberto’s wife, Sarah, is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Work at Boston College after receiving her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Tufts. They have a son, Robi, 18 months.