There was a time, and it was not so long ago, when primary day in Chelsea was the near equivalent to a modern Patriots game or a Red Sox playoff game.
There were banners and excitement, crowds everywhere, and battles brewing in all the wards.
Signs were everywhere, which hundreds of people held throughout the city.
Most of the elected positions were contested, and hotly contested at that, by newcomers and old-timers, with the incumbents tending to hold the edge unless their time had come.
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There is an old Chelsea adage that awakening was considered a political act.
But that was before receivership, the Chelsea before politics was excised from the city’s heart and soul.
Primary Day in Chelsea could also get testy or even nasty when opposing candidates locked in a true live or die political battle ran into one another.
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Heated words and even punches were sometimes exchanged during political battles in the Chelsea of old.
Political organization was a bit different also.
Chelsea voters used to come out and vote in huge numbers.
At times, there were 80 percent turnouts for some elections.
That was years ago, before the city changed, before politics was taken out of the system running it.
Which brings us to Tuesday – Primary Day.
There were two primary battles.
A councilor District 1 battle brought out a total of 368 voters.
A councilor District 7 battle brought out a total of 108 voters.
By any standard of measure, the voter turnout went way beyond disappointing.
It was abysmal, almost to the point of non-existent.
From being one of the most politically relevant places in this nation, Chelsea has fallen to a near state of political irrelevancy.
Considering that three out of four of Chelsea’s last mayors went to prison for bribery, extortion and public corruption, perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing that politics has been removed with the touch of a skilled surgeon from the political life of the city.
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Those of us who recall the old days do so with an elevated state of romance about those times now so long a part of a vanishing past.
Was it better when the entire city was wrapped up in a political campaign that seemed like do or die, or is it a better city today with the politics removed as an impediment to good government?
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Obviously, we can’t have a vote like that anymore, because the mayoralty was removed as part of the new city charter.
However, being a member of the Chelsea city government remains a position of trust.
More people should participate in what remains of the political system.
More people should get out and vote.
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