Jody Santagate hopes to lead with empathy

May 20, 2020

Wareham Week spoke to each of the four candidates for the Board of Selectmen ahead of the town election. Two seats are available, and the top two vote-getters will be elected. For links to profiles of the other candidates, click here

Jody Santagate, a first-time candidate for the Board of Selectmen, said she wants to be a voice for the people of Wareham, with a focus on empathy.

Santagate said she has long been interested in politics, and there are politicians in her family line. She is a passionate researcher, and said she would bring that diligence to every vote on the board.

Santagate said that one of her priorities as a selectmen would be to work to provide better support for the town’s homeless population. During the winter, she pointed out, people have a place to sleep at night, but during the day they are largely out in the cold. She hopes the town can work to help homeless people get on solid ground from which they could get a job and begin to build a new life.

Santagate was herself homeless for a period of time, and said that gives her a unique perspective on the board.

“Throughout life, the road that I’ve traveled hasn’t always been the easiest road, I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles, and in doing so, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in different areas. I’ve had to think outside the box and persevere,” Santagate said. She is still in touch with the homeless population, and attended the soup kitchen dinners weekly before the pandemic.

“You don’t see other politicians in town there,” Santagate said. “Who’s there talking to the people and listening to these problems?”

Santagate said she would also work to promote better education in Wareham about the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and their rights. Wampanoags are allowed to fish for river herring, but are often harassed or assaulted by people who don’t know that fishing is a right of the tribe. Santagate, a single mother, has three sons who are members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

Finally, Santagate said that she would bring her frugal nature to discussions of the town’s budget.

Santagate works as a PCA to care for her own father and several other people, and works nights at Gourmet Garden. She has a degree in healthcare administration from Bristol Community College and a degree in social work from the University of Phoenix.

“Books can only teach you so much,” Santagate said. “Life experience, for me, has been my biggest teacher.”

Santagate also has extensive volunteer experience connecting people in need with benefits, tutoring, and working with the Wareham Tigers.