New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Longtime LCI official takes Health Department post
NEW HAVEN — Longtime Livable City Initiative Deputy Director for Housing Code Enforcement Rafael Ramos is moving back to the Health Department, where he started his career, to take over as environmental health director, a key city position that has been vacant for more than two years.
Ramos, who has worked for LCI for many years, started work in his new job Monday, said Health Director Maritza Bond, who will be Ramos’ boss. He replaces former Environmental Health Director Paul Kowalski, who retired in July 2019.
“He will be responsible for the oversight of that division ... to ensure the environmental quality within this city,” Bond said.
That will include overseeing the city’s food service licensing and inspection program, its lead abatement program and monitoring water quality, including testing of the water quality at beaches and public pools, Bond said.
As such, Ramos “will be an essential part of our team,” she said.
Ramos, 64, said he’s looking forward to the challenge as well as to getting to opportunity to redefine himself.
“I’m going to give it it my all. It’s nice to get a job to reinvent yourself,” he said.
“I’ve been doing housing code for a long time, for like 25 years strong,” he said. “The opportunity came up, I qualified, and I figured, ‘Well, why not?’
“I can assure you that I’m very passionate about this, about housing code and about lead,” said Ramos, who also is a Latin drummer and the founder of Fair Haven’s Bregamos Community Theater. “Helping people and trying to keep people healthy” is important to him, he said.
Ramos, who has worked for New Haven for 26 years, was a housing code inspector in the city’s old Office of Building Enforcement and Inspection, then moved over to become a neighborhood specialist when LCI was created, he said.
Bond said Ramos is wellqualified for the job.
“I think he brings vast knowledge of overall internal government experience, especially with lead cases,” she said. “He also has had interaction with many others” in city government.
“We are very excited for what he will bring to the department,” Bond said.
Mayor Justin Elicker agreed.
“Raphael is both a committed city staff member and community member,” Elicker said. “In addition to his work at LCI he has spearheaded the creation of Bregamos Theater, an important asset for New Haven’s young people. His expertise in enforcement will be a positive addition to the Health Department.”
Ramos “started his career as a lead inspector” and “has an extensive background” in environmental health, said Bond.
“He does have a certificate that he is required to have, and he is obtaining additional certifications” which also are required but which he is not required to have when first taking the job, she said.
Ramos is being paid an annual salary of $106,747 in his new position, up from $97,120 in his former job, said Kyle Buda, spokesman for Elicker’s administration.
“This was a tested position,” said Bond. “He applied for the position, tested for the position, interviewed for the position.”
Kowalski, who had been at the department for 39 years, is one of three individuals along with the city itself that were sued over changes to the city lead policy that increased the blood lead level at which a child under age six would be considered lead poisoned. The suit was settled and the policy has since been changed.