By Seth Daniel
Councillor Damali Vidot and the Chelsea Firefighters Union have parted ways in dramatic fashion this week after the union made public its desire to pull their endorsement of Vidot, the Union’s only Council endorsement in the last election two years ago.
The Chelsea Fire Union, Local 937, issued a letter this week saying it had unanimously voted through its membership to pull the endorsement of Vidot – which came during the City Election in 2015 – due to comments she made at a Jan. 23 City Council meeting in regards to a proposal on residency requirements for new hires.
After learning of the pulled endorsement, Vidot fired back with her own letter, saying that she believes she’s upheld her end of the bargain and didn’t think it fair that the Union pulled the endorsement so quickly due to one vote on one issue.
“Nowhere on their candidate questionnaire or endorsement letter did it require an elected official to agree 100 percent with everything they requested or pushed in total absolutes,” read her letter. “I can say with full confidence I’ve upheld my end in fulfilling my role as an endorsee. If the Local chooses to make this statement, it makes me question any endorsement they might release in the future, for that matter. An endorsement is valued when it helps forge relationships, and encourages dialogue in a membership. Perhaps they should re-evaluate their criteria, questionnaire and expectations before endorsing again in the future. Though short-lived, I am grateful for having had the support of our local firefighter’s union.”
The Fire Union gave its reason for pulling the endorsement as Vidot’s recent vote in favor of, and comments supporting, a proposal by Councilor Giovanni Recupero that would require all new hires in the Police and Fire Departments to remain residents of the City for several years after being hired. Though Vidot and other voted in favor, it did not have enough support to pass. The motion lost on a roll call vote, 4-7.
“As a Local, our concern became evident during your opportunity to speak on the order prior to casting your vote,” read the Union letter. “During this time you raised significant unfounded concerns regarding Local 937’s members engagement and overall commitment to the community in which we serve. It is for this reason that the entire membership of Local 937 has unanimously decided to withdraw our endorsement of you in your current position as well as you potential candidacy in this position in the future. Local 937 holds its ability to endorse a candidate very seriously and with our endorsement we harbor an expectation that our integrity, honor and commitment not be questioned by those receiving our endorsement.”
The Union wasn’t specific in what Vidot said, but it most likely has to do with comments she made about the fact that if Chelsea is good enough to come to get paid, it should be good enough to call home. Likewise, she also made comments that she believes if someone lives in the City where they work, the would approach their job differently. She also made a note that those councillor that routinely vote against residency are those that represent safer neighborhoods in the city.
Vidot said she believes her comments were not taken in context.
“As a person who prides herself in her integrity, honor and commitment to the city and in the work of our brave men and women in uniform – I would never question those same values in others and am confident that my words were taken out of context,” she wrote.
She also outlined her achievements involving the Fire Department over the last year, including advocating for increased staffing due to increased population.