For those of us who have known Jay Ash from the days when he was a lanky kid at Chelsea High School, it was evident that Jay stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries (and not merely because he was 6′-7″).
Jay conveyed a sense of purpose and honesty, not only on the basketball court (where he was a star performer for Chelsea High and Clark University), but in everything he did. He possessed a maturity and wisdom beyond his years, both on and off the hardwood floor, that set him apart from the typical, college-bound student.
Indeed, those qualities soon became even more apparent after his graduation when Jay worked in the office of State Representative Richard A. Voke and became an integral part of Voke’s team as Richie rose through the House ranks to become Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
What also became clear during those years is that Jay naturally gravitated toward the realm of public service. His desire to help people, and especially to give back to his home city, placed him in that realm of those who are called upon to make life better for others.
It was both a fitting and a natural progression therefore, for Jay to become our City Manager. His integrity, experience, and dedication to the high office he attained made him the logical choice for the job and his years of accomplishment have borne out the wisdom of his selection for our highest office.
We will leave to others to list the many accomplishments that Chelsea has attained during Jay’s tenure as our City Manager — we simply will mention that we were chosen as an All-American City in 2014 — but suffice to say that for those of us who have seen Chelsea plummet to the depths of receivership, its resurrection like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes under the direction of Jay Ash has been nothing short of miraculous.
Indeed, we can pay Jay no higher an accolade than to list him among the greatest of all Chelsea’s public servants, placing him among such figures as his mentor Richie Voke, Tom Birmingham, and Andrew P. Quigley, all of whom accomplished so much for the city where they grew up and loved.
We know we joined with every Chelsea resident in feeling a deep sense of pride when Jay, one of our own, had been named by Governor-elect Charlie Baker to become his first Cabinet pick as Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.
Jay Ash will be hard to replace, but we’re sure that Chelsea will remain uppermost in his mind as he pursues his duties at the state level. We wish Jay the best as he moves on and we have no absolutely doubt that he will accomplish great things for our state.