Letters to the Editor

Vidot thanks supporters and voters

Dear Editor:

I’d like to share my sincerest gratitude to everyone who came out and voted for me on Tuesday Nov. 3. These past few months have been a whirlwind and I am honored and excited to serve as your next City Councilor.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Chelsea Firefighters Local 937, Maria Jobin-Leeds (Maria’s List), Mass Alliance, SEIU Local 888 as well as SEIU 32BJ Local 615; for your endorsements and support. Lastly, I’d like to not only thank ‘TEAM DEE,’ but also I want to congratulate them on a job well done.  I have said numerous times that despite the outcome of the election we were already winners for the amount of work we’d put forth in spreading our message of unity, accountability and transparency. I am so proud and honored to have been part of such a hard-working, energetic team and I could never fully express what your contributions to the campaign has meant for me. Your hard work was not in vain as I now have the luxury of representing you at City Hall.

The City of Chelsea experienced quite a shake up last Tuesday as every incumbent lost a contested seat.  We have seen a lot of changes in recent years beyond the control of the residents and the residents decided to respond by making changes of their own; by electing five fresh faces onto their City Council.

According to the last U.S. Census, 62.1% of Chelsea’s population are Hispanic/ Latino. For the first time in history we have a Council that is majority Latino. I am honored to be a part of history and of the group of fresh faces on the council. Personally for me, however, as proud as I am of my Nuyorican heritage; it is only a fragment of what I represent as I am also a homeowner, former at-risk young person, concerned resident, but most importantly, I am a mom.

Throughout this campaign, I have heard many divisive conversations with respect to race, gender and ethnicity that I often ignored. Since our historical elections, those conversations have intensified leaving me with no choice but to address it. Having been raised in Chelsea where diversity and multiculturalism was celebrated; and being part of a movement where my volunteers ranged from ages 16-72 and every race and nationality in between; I don’t tolerate intolerance well.

My message is and has always been that of ‘One Chelsea’ as I feel that residents from every corner of this city united is the only way we’ll be able to get anything accomplished. Divisive commentary is not only part of an old-school mentality, it is hurtful and it is a hindrance to the work that needs to be done to fix our broken community.

I believe that the results of the General Election prove that the will of the people is to put an end to the old school politics and bring forth a new wave of leadership that no longer serves self or special interests.  My first assignment as City Councilor is to cast a vote for a council president and as promised, I will be sure to cast a vote for the councilor I feel promotes unity and  transparency and will allow the new leadership you so overwhelmingly asked for.  I look forward to serving Chelsea and working with City Councilors, both old and new. Thank you for believing in me and I intend on working just as hard as your City Councilor as I did to get elected.

Damali Vidot

Councillor at-Large-elect

Explaining the orders submitted about the election

Dear Editor:

There are a number of misconceptions regarding two orders I submitted that need to be put to rest. First, the orders are largely symbolic, as City Council has limited powers to order the City Manager to do anything. If adopted, however, these orders will send a message that the Council believes there were a sufficient number of allegedly inappropriate actions that took place leading up to and on Election Day that warrant notice and possible action. Second, the role of the Secretary of State would be for the purpose of recommending solutions aimed at preventing like issues from reoccurring. One possible solution involves my second order, dispatching observers to watch polling locations, something that was done during the mayoral election in Lawrence and in several elections in Boston. I have recently forwarded a copy of a document outlining allegations to both the City Clerk and the Secretary of State, and, having been made aware of them, it will be at their discretion as to what, if any, actions are to be taken.

These allegations include: poll workers providing campaign material to voters “assist in spelling a write-in candidate’s name”, campaign volunteers handing out stickers and politically interacting with voters well within the 150 foot limit clearly established by state law were all prevalent. In one of the most egregious cases reported directly to me, I was informed by a trusted individual that a poll worker allegedly asked him, a first time voter, if the reason he was voting was because he received a piece of literature circulated to eligible voters with Latino-sounding names in Spanish that included a call to vote for Latino candidates and was printed above a filled out “slate” on a sample ballot. When informed he had not heard of it, she allegedly responded, “never mind, forget I mentioned it”.

To be clear, one should not blame any candidates for what occurred. Though many were beneficiaries of these actions, I believe the blame lies fully with the organization that allegedly flirted with the bounds of better judgment, if not the law, to advocate on behalf of certain individuals.

I believe anyone who values an electoral system free from corruption by special interests should be bothered by what transpired on November 3rd. The notion that a non-profit organization’s high ranking employee, in this case the Chelsea Collaborative’s Director, being the author of the document described above, would advocate directly on behalf of, or against, specific candidates runs contrary to my understanding of  the letter and spirit of the  rules that govern their status as an entity that is the recipient of money from both this city and the state.

The Chelsea Collaborative, in an email they seemed to feel the need to send out on November 5th, attempts to get ahead of what many saw take place by noting, in their words, “some members of our organization used their holiday hours to campaign for individuals and friends they supported” while “others worked regular business hours to implement the” their self-titled “non-partisan Chelsea Voter Initiative work plan to GOTV” – “Get Out the Vote”

Apparently aimed at clarifying an issue the Collaborative felt the need to send out an e-mail that only served to further frustrate by making it impossible to determine which hat any given employee was wearing at any given moment, an inarguably legitimate concern to me as it should be for all residents, our city and state’s governments as well as to other contributors to Chelsea Collaborative, financial or other.

The election day campaigning that I allege is disappointingly, nothing new to Chelsea politics, but this year, I feel, simply went so boldly and unapologetically far that these allegations cannot and must not be ignored.

Chelsea, a city that works daily to distance itself from a history of imprisoned Mayors and FBI inquires, must not allow our political process to be usurped by any organization that seeks to lead a political machine to exercise control over city government. From one who served proudly as a representative of the people, Chelsea and its residents deserve better.

Clifford Cunningham

City Councillor

Need for a Resource Center

Dear Editor:

Recently, CAPIC was the focus of an article in the Chelsea Record about working with the City of Chelsea to develop wrap around services for the people who congregate in and around Bellingham Square, many whom suffer from chronic alcohol and drug use. The concept involved creating a “Resource Center” at the former Cataldo Ambulance building on Hawthorne Street. The Center would provide people with services that could help them have an improved quality of life, eventually leading toward sobriety. It is generally thought that persons who want to become sober would seek this help, which would include a compassionate understanding of the problem and an opportunity for a fresh start. Before someone can achieve sobriety, they may need to address hygiene, hunger, obtain clean cloths, haircut, access to health care and a caring community. The Resource Center would be the place to receive these and other services.

Unfortunately, this proposal met with resistance among some in the community. Although the extent of the opposition was not known, I decided to find an alternate location, since this type of pilot should really have broad community support. Prior to making this decision, I participated in a social media debate regarding the location and found a majority of support from people in the Chelsea community for that location; however the opponents found it difficult to understand the purpose of the Center. It appeared the debate was drifting from the need for caring services, to the appropriateness of recipients receiving services in proximity to a school and the downtown district. Of course, the target population is already located downtown and there are other client based services with similar missions in close proximity to schools.

Here, we have a situation where there was support from many residents and service providers alike who recognize the problem and support the need for a Resource Center, yet we have opponents who recognize the problem, but have not proposed solutions. This situation places me, as Director of the anti-poverty agency commissioned with the task of bringing people out of poverty, in a dilemma. We know that the people best served by this type of facility are not likely to travel to the outskirts of the City, yet local opposition calls for that approach. The answer appears to rest in finding an alternative location that satisfies both needs. I believe that there will likely be opposition to any location, either from elected officials, residents or business.  My decision to compromise on the Hawthorne Street location was based primarily upon the promise of elected officials who opposed this project to help CAPIC find a more “appropriate” location. I will hold them to that promise and my determination and resolve to address the problem of homelessness for these individuals will not diminish.

CAPIC remains committed to providing alternatives for persons who suffer from homelessness and hopelessness. It is through that state of existence that CAPIC as an organization and we as a community are responsible and obligated to address what seems to be the impossible. Some have the notion that increased law enforcement and eventual gentrification will solve the poverty problem, but that is very unlikely. History has shown that a more compassionate approach, may take longer, but has a far more effective role in restoring sobriety and chronic homelessness. There are examples of that success seen in other parts of the Country, where persons in recovery who are given a home embrace the concept and take pride in keeping it safe and clean. So, my friends the story has not ended…a new chapter has just begun.

Robert Repucci

CAPIC, Executive Director

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *