Letters to the Editor

Congratulations to all the candidates in the last election

Dear Editor:

We, the members of Board of Directors of the Chelsea Collaborative, write to offer our congratulations to all candidates who bravely entered the foray of political campaigns. We applaud both those who were elected and those who were not. In particular we express our gratitude for the service of those who will not be on next term’s elected bodies. We look forward to working with all of you for the continued well being and progress of our City of Chelsea.

We also write to express support for our staff members who were politically engaged in campaigns for City Council and School Committee candidates on their personal time.   More than a decade ago, the Collaborative Board changed its personnel policies to make all Election Days a holiday. We did so to allow our employees time off to exercise their right to campaign for friends, family or themselves as private citizens – as it was done in the last election and has been done since we implemented this policy – or just to rest and spend more time with family and friends.  The Election Day thus, is theirs to use as they please. They also have the option not to take the holiday but rather to work on non-partisan efforts such as signature collection for referendum questions, in which case they are free to take another day off of their choosing.

We also want to leave no doubt that staff members exercised their rights as private citizens with no involvement of the Chelsea Collaborative. No Collaborative assets, property or resources were used for political campaigns.

This year’s Election Day certainly brought about change. While some see the actions of some of our staff members as controversial, we are steadfast in our position that they and the Collaborative have followed every letter of the law.

The Collaborative’s non-partisan Chelsea Voter Initiative knocked on doors, registered voters, collected signatures for a referendum question that would shift the tax burden to the extremely wealthy and talked with people who typically do not vote.  Over the course of several months, we reached thousands of voters.  We talked to them about issues and concerns important to their families and their livelihood.  While we cannot take credit for the increased voter turnout or number of candidates seeking office, we are proud of the role we played in encouraging increased civic participation.

We celebrate the increased voter participation of the last election, and we are thankful for the hard work and dedication of those who ran for office.  We look forward to working with all to raise our voices on behalf of those who are unable to be heard in the areas of power in our community and achieving gains in the advancement of the underserved in our city.

On behalf of the Board,

Rosalba Medina, President

Rev. Edgar Gutierrez, Vice-President

Lee Staples, Past President

Edwin Argueta, Clerk

Arthur Michaud, Treasurer

Writer concerned of possible divisions on the horizon

Dear Editor:

I came to work in Chelsea in 1972 as a Health Organizer for Community Action Programs Inter-City, Inc. (CAPIC). Fresh out of College, having lived in Revere most of my life, I was immediately immersed in a new, multi-cultural environment where most of my co-workers were either African-American or Latino. I formed lasting relationships with people like Leo and Ron Robinson, Dale Johnson, Dave Hill, Hector Claudio, Roberto Rodriguez, Rosa Navarro, Jimmy Mercado, Anna Vega, Juanita Lush, Fernando Epalza and the list goes on…and yes, there were a few Anglos, Tommy Fazio, Helen Zucco, Don Robitale, Amy Harris, Sue Clark, Jack Croucher, Marsha Greenberg, Marsha Peters, Alan Hurwitz and several more.

In those days, the issue of color and ethnicity was almost non-existent. We worked and played together. We were focused on helping people who were desperate and weary. Homelessness, mostly from constant fires, drug/alcohol dependence and poverty prevailed as the common denominator. We worked to improve the environment with more clean air; worked to give people greater access to health care and housing; advocated for stricter code enforcement to protect tenants; fought to expose the hazard of lead paint and of course we concentrated on getting people jobs. Throughout that time, the Latino population in Chelsea was increasing and I was one who welcomed that emergence, since they were generous, hardworking people. In fact, most of the important work done by CAPIC was accomplished by Latino men and women who worked tirelessly and never complained.

Last week when I became aware of the effort made by some to influence residents to vote for a slate of Latino candidates I was surprised, but mostly disappointed. For anyone to ask people to vote for a candidate from a particular ethnic group just doesn’t feel right to me. I am from Italian heritage, but would never show favor toward that population in order to achieve notoriety or success. I understand from what I read that some Latino leaders feel that the current elected officials are not doing a good job and  I ask myself, already knowing the answer, is that because they belong to a particular ethnicity? Of course not, and it also doesn’t mean that persons from a different ethnic group can and will do a better job. Today, in America we have opportunity to achieve as individuals on our own merit, without fear of retribution, yet the notion that someone would organize voting preference around a particular ethnic group causes me to be concerned that further divisions may be on the horizon. This type of tactic needs to be exposed, for it will corrupt the fabric of who we are as a community.

Putting aside speculation about motive, we are all equal as created by God and the inference that one group may be more capable than another is harmful and counterproductive for a society that struggles to survive in the midst of terror, addiction, poverty and disease.

Robert S. Repucci

Executive Director

CAPIC

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