By Seth Daniel
Former District 7 City Councillor Clifford Cunningham announced this week that he will no longer be pursuing the seat he once occupied on the Council.
In an announcement to the Record on Wednesday morning, Cunningham – who had announced his intentions to run last month – said he has a new educational opportunity that will require more of his personal time, and he also doesn’t wish to work with the current Council minus retiring Councillors Dan Cortell and Paul Murphy.
In light of a new and long sought educational opportunity afforded to me, as well as deep concerns over the future of the City Council in light of recent retirement announcements, I am announcing my withdrawal from the race for City Councilor in District 7,” he said. “In my case, I am unable to dedicate the time the job deserves in light of a new career opportunity, nor do I believe I can work effectively with a City Council populated so heavily, with a few exceptions, by gross incompetence, a lack of preparedness, an unacceptable lack of knowledge on city government, and ethics one could best describe as questionable.
“I firmly believe one can not help people who do not want to help themselves,” he continued. “If a majority of the people of Chelsea are willing to settle for the representation they have received over the last two years solely because a majority of the Council is now made up of people who ‘look like them’ – as a racist campaign mailer in the last election argued for – it is deeply disappointing and does not auger well for the city’s future.”
Cunningham served on the Council for several years before losing to incumbent District 7 Councillor Yamir Rodriguez in the last election cycle – a cycle that was tarnished by the efforts of the Chelsea Collaborative’s Gladys Vega in mailings that encouraged voters to “Vote for the Latinos.”
That rubbed a number of the candidates and sitting councillors wrongly, and caused quite a stir – notably by Cunningham who took great exception to the literature circulated in his district, though not endorsed at all by his opponent, Councillor Rodriguez.
He said he has not been encouraged by the “new” Council over the past two years and hopes voters won’t settle for what he said is inexperience and negligence.
“Come January 2017, the City will lose at least 14 years of governmental experience, and I sincerely hope the residents of Chelsea look at the last two years – bickering between rival egos, political grandstanding, massive government borrowing, and a drive towards gentrification – and ask themselves: do we really have to settle for this?” he concluded.