By Gladys Vega and Roseann Bongiovanni
We are writing to congratulate all candidates who participated in the recent elections and to address concerns raised by our involvement. For the first time in many years, Chelsea is on the precipice of change and our community leveraged its true voice in directing that future at the ballot box. We stand by the roles we personally play in these very elections.
As individuals who are, and have always been, politically active in the city of Chelsea, as we have so many times before, we supported candidates that we felt would best reflect the values of our community and will help lead Chelsea into an exciting future. As a progressive Latina mother and grandmother who values seeing diversity in all levels of decision making and as a former City Councilor, mother and homeowner, we have unique viewpoints and goals for our city’s schools, services, and economic development efforts. While we have worked together for two decades, we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but where we always agree is in the direction that Chelsea must move – forward, better, more just.
So, we did what so many others in Chelsea, across Massachusetts, and across the country do – we got involved. In our personal time, we knocked doors, sent letters, made phone calls, and supported candidates.
We supported candidates who reflect our values and want to help move Chelsea forward, believe that our schools can do better, want to improve public safety and enhance the quality of life in Chelsea.
Our support for candidates in local elections is no different than that of any other citizen of Chelsea. We do not apologize for being two politically active women who worked hard, and used tried and true “Get Out The Vote” strategies to ensure our candidates got their supporters to the polls. The candidates that we supported are Hispanic, African American and Caucasian. They are men and women. We would like to thank the Chelsea Record and others for insinuating that we are the power brokers of Chelsea – the ones whose letters and postcards tipped the ballot box in our candidates’ favor. While we’d like to bask in that glory, the truth is, the candidates who won outworked, better connected and represented the ideals of the voting populace.
We’ve been doing this for two decades and for officials such as former Rep. Gene O’Flaherty, Former State Senator Jarrett Barrios, Current State Senator Sal DiDomenico, former Governor Deval Patrick, former Attorney General Martha Coakley, Congressman Michael Capuano, State Senate candidate Paul Nowicki and many more — a list too long to list.
While we are many things, what we are not are two women who will be silenced by the ideals of a misogynistic society that says a woman’s place is in the kitchen with no opinions and no voice. We support giving voice to all people – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or any other classification meant to discriminate.
We are proud to have taken part in Chelsea’s historic elections. We congratulate Chelsea and the election victors for representing the diversity of our community.
Everyone in Chelsea should be celebrating what happened. The Boston Globe and WBUR covered the importance of Chelsea’s elections for the city, for the state and for Latinos everywhere. Chelsea is but one of two cities in the entire state of Massachusetts in which the incoming elected officials proportionately represent the Latino population. It is shameful that our own local newspaper, rather than highlight the historic importance of this watershed event in Chelsea politics, is giving more attention to alleged election irregularities and complaints about the Chelsea Collaborative — an organization which has been a positive influence in this community for almost 30 years now and has taken the lead on so many campaigns and projects that have benefitted everyone in Chelsea, for decades to come.
It’s also interesting and contradictory that these complaints come from the very paper which called for the “tidal wave” of Latino voters during an election of utmost importance to Chelsea – maintaining a State Representative who hails from Chelsea. Specifically, an Op-Ed from Chelsea Record writer Seth Daniel on March 5, 2014 stated:
“To get elected from Chelsea in the 2nd District, one now has to bank on and count on the Latino vote. That’s a conundrum. It’s an enigma. Will they vote? Mark my words -the Latino vote is a potential tidal wave of political power that could one day turn this City and the entire area on its ear. That day has not come yet, though, if it ever does unlocking that vote would be no small piece of magic. But if a born-and-raised Chelsea Latino guy like Roy Avellaneda cannot do it, then I don’t know who will. And so the tables have turned on Chelsea, and there doesn’t appear to be any clear path to victory any time soon – barring that piece of magic referred to above.”
Celebrate the magic. Today, magic is no illusion, but a reality for Chelsea. Mark our words.
Congratulations candidates, congratulations Chelsea.