It’s been quite some time since a Chelsea Inauguration Ceremony was standing-room only, and crowds spilled outside the doorway of the Council Chambers in order to get a glimpse of those taking the oath of office.
There are some that thought that might not ever happen again in Chelsea.
Those people were wrong, however, because excitement radiated through the Council Chambers Monday night, and hundreds packed into City Hall to watch the proceedings – proceedings that would begin the term of a new Council with six new faces and that is majority Latino.
The School Committee, also, is now comprised of new members – three of whom are Latina.
The night began with councillors and School Committee members taking the oath of office from City Clerk Debbie Clayman.
Then, the Council unanimously elected District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell as its new Council President for the year. That was followed by the election of Councillor Damali Vidot as vice president and Yamir Rodriguez as School Committee liaison.
“We have new faces here and faces that have returned,” said Cortell. “This is a Council with historic Latino representation that as a community we can be most proud of…I am certain all councillors here put their name on the ballot motivated by their personal expectations, experience and passion to be a part of making Chelsea as great as it can be.”
Cortell said the Council would be focused on deciding whether development is at a saturation point, and looking to create a master plan. He said they would be looking to make the streets safer and crime-free. He said the Council would work collaboratively and be transparent.
He said the city is also in a position to pick and choose the development it wants.
“The days of begging people to come to Chelsea are behind us and we’re able to pick and choose what we want and tells some that we don’t want their project, whether for size – like at the Forbes Plant – or whether for use – like the strip club, which I think we’re better than,” he said.
He also pledged to work collectively with community-based organizations in the coming year.
State Rep. Dan Ryan was the featured speaker during the inauguration representing the state delegation, and he said the transfer of power is noteworthy.
“What we witnessed here tonight is a peaceful transfer of power,” he said. “I think it’s an honor to the legacy of Chelsea…These are values that were first fought for in the lands of this district on the Chelsea Creek and at Bunker Hill.”
He finished his remarks by quoting the well-liked 1970s and 1980s theme song to the sitcom ‘Welcome Back Kotter.’
“Well the names have all changed since you hung around, but those dreams have remained and they’re turned around,’” he said. “How’s that?”
The room erupted into enthusiastic cheers.
Next, and most important, were the remarks of City Manager Tom Ambrosino. He said he sensed the excitement of the demographic change in the Council, but interpreted that excitement to transcend the simple demographics.
“There is an excitement in here tonight,” he said. “I know part of that is that there are many new faces and it’s exciting to have the first Latino majority Council, but I also think it’s more than the demographics. I really get the sense there’s a renewed optimism about what city government can accomplish for its residents. The city has been blessed over the last 20 years with extraordinary leadership. That leadership has helped Chelsea to have good fortune. What I sense now is there is a shared sense of purpose and a shared vision that it’s time to take full advantage of that good fortune…In other words, the time is right to take the good fortune we have and start investing it heavily in our residents.”
Translated further, he called for spending the large sums of money Chelsea has amassed over the years through conservative and prudent fiscal policies. Ambrosino has called for spending a good deal of money on infrastructure, schools and the downtown business district – more money than has been proposed before.
And judging by the loud, prolonged applause after his remarks, those in the audience felt the same way – no matter what race, color or creed.