Guest Op-Ed: Council has been Effective in Moving the City Forward in COVID-19

By Councillor Leo Robinson

(As delivered at Monday night’s Organizational Council meeting)

I have served on the City Council for 30 years as an At Large Councilor. Starting in the 1980’s when it was a Mayor form of governance, when I also ran for Mayor, and since, under the City Manager.  I have served as president of the City Council for five times during this period.

Tonight, I would like to share some brief remarks with you about the role of the City Council to advance the interests of its residents and the overall improvement of the city.

This is a time of tremendous anxiety and worry for many of our residents, who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus- many whom have fallen ill or had family members and friends fall ill or pass away, and from the constant fear of exposure to the virus in their workplace.

The coronavirus has caused the loss of jobs in the community, and placed our families under severe economic burdens-with the loss of income and the lack of resources to cover the basic needs of life – food and housing.

The Council has responded to this crisis, by working closely with the City Manager and voting funds to provide emergency aid for rental assistance, emergency food, small business grants, and mortgage assistance of homeowners.

The needs exceed the city’s ability to address them completely on its own. So as a body, it is critical that we work collectively to advocate for State and Federal resources to carry this burden with us. I see this collective City Council action as a natural extension of its recent support for funding and programs to for its residents.

It would be my focus as a senior member of Council to continue this collective effort to serve the residents of the City- those currently at need and those residents who face coming challenges. This means for me that cooperation with my fellow councilors in a comprehensive effort to assist residents in need is the priority; and that gaining a consensus and working together in how we advance a program of aid and assistance.

Many of our residents – renters and homeowners – are at-risk in these times.  The City Council can play a role in helping relieve these conditions. This past term, we voted rental relief funds for renters, and mortgage relief funds for homeowners. Relief for small business owners, and food relief for those in need.

This is the kind of immediate response to local needs that our City Council has been effective in delivering. So I want to personally express my commitment to listening to the needs of our community, and working with all of you to continue to respond and move this community forward.

Most importantly, these times have exposed the systematic racial and economic injustice that many in our community are burdened by- and that create undue obstacles and exposure to health inequities, income and employment and educational advancement. This Council has within its power to help to change this.

Here’s to the New Year of health, opportunity and equality for all. Thank you.Leo Robinson is a Chelsea City Councillor.

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