All potential Chelsea candidates seemingly have coalesced behind one man this week, with former City Councillor Roy Avellaneda pulling papers and mounting a run for state representative in Gene O’Flaherty’s former district.
O’Flaherty has accepted a job as chief corporate counsel for the City of Boston and will step down from his post by February. He is reportedly planning to move from Chelsea as well.
Avellaneda and a handful of others from Chelsea had hinted about interest in running for the seat last week, but apparently a meeting of the minds produced unified support for Avellaneda.
Avellaneda is a former city councillor and has served as a staff member at the State House. His family owns Tito’s Bakery on Broadway.
“I pulled my papers on Monday and I’ve started collecting signatures,” he said. “I do plan on running and this week we’re just gearing up for the craziness. My first goal is to get my signatures and get those turned in. We’ll be having a kick-off event and we’ll be planning events routinely all the way to the March 4 Primary.”
The schedule for the upcoming special election in the race is exactly the same as Chelsea’s other vacant state rep seat – which opened up about five days before O’Flaherty’s seat when Kathi-Anne Reinstein resigned rather suddenly to take a job with the Boston Beer Co.
The Primary will be on March 4 and the final election on April 1. With the race heavy on Democrats, the election will likely be decided on March 4, which is less than two months away.
The departure of both of Chelsea’s state reps in the span of five days will likely lead to the city not having representation for several months in the House. As of Feb. 1, there will likely be no state rep from Chelsea until after the final election on April 1 – when two new reps will be crowned.
Another complication cited was the fact that candidates would have to essentially run for the seat twice in a six-month span – as the winner in the special election this April would have to run again for re-election this fall.
That didn’t bother Avellaneda.
“There are pros and cons to this election,” he said. “The pros are that it’s quick and doesn’t grind on and allow people to lose interest. As someone who has run for political office and has been a political operative in larger races, it’s a positive because it’s so hard to maintain momentum in a longer race. There can be no slacking. The cons of this is that because of the time element, it really limits candidates in trying to reach everyone in the district. You don’t have as much time to knock on doors or hold coffee hours…I’m glad they had the special election, though. There’s something to be said about having someone representing the city between now and January.”
Unlike Avellaneda, Chelsea City Council President Matt Frank said the time element discouraged him from running.
“I decided a few days ago it wasn’t the right time for me and I’m going to concentrate on being council president now,” he said. “Unfortunately, they decided on an eight-week cycle and that’s very hard to do. I don’t think I agree with that decision.”
Chelsea City Councillor Leo Robinson said he has also decided not to run.
“I don’t know if the numbers work for me and I’m not going to be running,” he said. “I’m hoping they talk about the issues that are important to our community in this short campaign.”
Another potential Chelsea candidate was Councillor Calvin Brown, but his status in the race was uncertain.
In Charlestown – the other half of the district – Democratic Ward Chairman Chris Remmes has pulled his papers and is currently gathering signatures. He said he is currently ratcheting up his campaign from an eight-month schedule to a two-month schedule.
“For me, I was in this a little earlier, so maybe I had a little head start,” he said. “Given that, it’s still going to be very interesting. We’re moving from an eight-month campaign to a two-month campaign, so we’re out there doing the important things quickly like knocking on doors and raising money.”
Remmes raised $23,000 in December for the campaign and continues to raise more money.
He said he has hired an experienced campaign manager who is already in the field.
“I have hired a campaign manager, Gary Mannion, who ran the campaign for new Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera last fall,” he said. “He worked in the field organizing up there and he’s going to do the same here. We’ve only got 47 days to go so we’re doing things as fast as we can.”
The final candidate expected to be in the race is another familiar face from Charlestown, Dan Ryan.
It was uncertain by press time if Ryan had pulled papers, but he did indicate last week that he is intends to run for the seat.
Former Boston City Council candidate Jack Kelly has announced that he will not run for the seat, after expressing some interest last week.
Candidates must gather 150 signatures and get them certified by Jan. 27 to get on the March 4 ballot.