Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash took the city to the Rocky mountaintop in June, helping the community earn the prestigious All-Amerca City Award at the National Civic League Competition in Denver.
Local business and community leaders say Jay Ash has been an excellent leader of the city where he grew up, attended high school, and starred on the basketball court.
The tributes to Ash’s exceptional leadership poured in Wednesday from people who woke up to the front-page news that the 6-foot-7-inch city manager had accepted a position in Governor-elect Charlie Baker’s administration.
Susan Gallant, past president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce who has a Certified Public Accounting practice in the city, wished Ash well in his new Governor’s Cabinet position as the secretary of housing and economic development.
“It’s a great opportunity for Jay and his family and I wish him the best as he goes on to this new chapter,” said Gallant. “Economic development has been his forte in Chelsea so I think he’s a great choice for this position.”
Josh Kraft, Nicholas president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, praised Ash’s leadership and his commitment to the city.
“Jay Ash was instrumental in helping to transform the city of Chelsea through his leadership and commitment,” said Kraft. “Jay had an unbelievable vision and commitment to making Chelsea the best small city in Massachusetts. Through his work in economic development and his collaboration with community organizations and families, he changed the complexion of a city that was in tough shape for many years.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he will bring that same passion and commitment to the state and all of us across Massachusetts will benefit,” added Kraft.
The former executive director of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club on Willow Street thanked Ash for his assistance in the construction of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse for the benefit of Chelsea youths.
“Jay played a major role in helping to establish the Jordan Boys and Girls Club as a beautiful, award-winning building that is there today,” said Kraft. “Jay was involved in the club from Day One. From June 1, 1993 to today, he has been instrumental in the club and everything that goes on there.”
Chelsea High director of athletics Frank DePatto, one of the city manager’s mentors and close friends, said that his positive imprint on the city will be remembered for years to come.
“I’m filled with mixed emotions because Jay has done such a great job in Chelsea,” said DePatto. “You walk around the city and it spells ‘Jay Ash’ everywhere you go – with all the redevelopment, the hotels, the FBI building. When we pass through Chelsea we will always be thinking of Jay and his efforts in rebuilding the city.”
John Ruiz, who became the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world and has a city park named in honor, said he will always be grateful to Ash’s support of his boxing career.
“The great reception Jay and the city had for me when I returned home with the championship belt is something I will always cherish,” said Ruiz. “Jay did a tremendous job in all areas of our city and the All-America City Award is a testament to his leadership and drive. I wish him well in his new position. He will make our state better for all of its residents just as he has made Chelsea better for all of its people.”