Jean Bradley Derenoncourt, 27, said that he was spurned by well-connected politicians in Brockton during his campaign to become the first Haitian-American member of the Brockton City Council.
BROCKTON – With less than two years of U.S. citizenship under his belt, after coming to this country from Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, Jean Bradley Derenoncourt was able to get himself elected as a leader of Brockton’s city government.
The 27-year-old, who is the first Haitian-American elected to public office in Brockton, took one of the four at-large seats on the 11-person Brockton City Council during Tuesday’s citywide election. While Derenoncourt is proud to be an immigrant and a Haitian-American, the councilor-elect said his story shows the how opportunities are afforded to everyone who comes to live in the U.S.
“What I would like people to understand is that it happened to be my name and my face,” said Derenoncourt, “but I do believe there are a lot of people out there, not just from Haiti but people from all over the world, who could do exactly the same thing. It’s not just a Haitian-American story. It is a story of America.”
Derenoncourt launched his campaign for Brockton City Council on Feb. 11 this year, on the one-year anniversary of his obtaining U.S. citizenship. During his first campaign for public office, Derenoncourt won on Tuesday by picking up 5,250 votes, finishing fourth in a field of eight candidates.
While many believe that he had support from the city’s political establishment, Derenoncourt said it was the total opposite. During an interview at his home on Saturday, the the city councilor-elect said that he built a campaign team of friends who he has met along the way from school and the community, in addition to supporters from the SEIU and the Massachusetts Coalition for Social Justice, which he campaigned with in 2014 to pass a ballot measure giving the chance to earn sick time to all workers in the state.
“I would like people to understand the establishment did not support us, they truly did not,” Derenoncourt said. “I thought some of the folks who claimed to be the representation of Brockton would have jumped on board, but they did not. I had no big political backup. People think I do, but I do not.”
Without naming names, Derenoncourt said he was spurned by several city leaders that he expected support from during the campaign. The city councilor-elect said some people even personally urged him to drop out of the race. Derenoncourt said that his election showed that a candidate doesn’t need to be well-connected in order to win.