By Seth Daniel
Two incumbent district city councillors announced on Wednesday that they would not be seeking re-election to their seat after having served for several years on the board.
Early Wednesday, District 8 City Councillor Dan Cortell led the charge with a shocking announcement that he would not run for office again.
“I will not be seeking another term as District 8 City Councilor in this November’s election,” he said. “I announce this decision, a difficult one, not without reservation, but with a desire make my intentions known with sufficient time to give anyone wishing to run for the seat ample opportunity to pull papers and obtain the signatures necessary to assure a position on the ballot and significantly before campaigning functionally gets underway. Anyone considering a run for the District 8 seat is welcome to contact me to discuss the position.”
Cortell has been on the Council for 10 years and has served as its president multiple times.
Virtually no one expected the decision, and Cortell had taken out nomination papers already, but said he will not exercise his right to gather signatures to be placed on the ballot. Though he was seemingly excited about his post, in recent weeks he had expressed some frustration and perhaps that led to his decision.
He said he will continue to fight vigorously for the community and serve out his term until December, when he will address more fully his decision not to run.
“I remain District 8’s Councilor until the end of this calendar year and will continue to be the voice of its residents, my neighbors, in addressing quality of life and others matters with the vigor the position demands and honor that serving commands,” he said. “And after the expiration of my term, know that I will to continue to be a vocal resident when it comes consequential matters like the return of a strip club to the former King Arthur’s site, one I’ve partnered with so many to vehemently oppose, and others as one who still proudly calls Chelsea my home and wishes to see it be the best it can be.”
As for candidates to fill the empty seat, which is a very active seat representing a large voter base on Admiral’s Hill and just below.
An immediate possibility is Zaida Ismatul-Oliva of Spruce Street, who has been active and apparently contemplating a run for District 8 with or without Cortell in the race. Ismatul-Oliva grew up in Chelsea and works for Bunker Hill Community College. She has been seen out and about at several Council meetings lately and community events.
Some have also postulated that former At-large Councillor Calvin Brown could be interested in putting his hat in the ring to run for the district seat. Brown has always been active in the community and continues to be so, but there was no indication he was going to try for District 8.
His former colleagues were quick to give him their accolades, including former Councillor and District 7 Candidate Clifford Cunningham.
“Councillor Cortell’s decision to retire will cost the city one of it’s hardest working and dedicated City Councillors – a fact made more disheartening due to the lack of experience and, in some cases, competence of many of the remaining Councillors,” he said. “I am grateful I had the opportunity to serve alongside him during my tenure, and I wish my friend well as he retires from the Council and becomes a private citizen again.”
The other big news of the week on the Council came from the largest and most active voting block in the city, that being Prattville and District 1 – where Councillor Paul Murphy will not seek re-election.
Murphy was rumored to be considering leaving his post in recent weeks due to health challenges faced by his parents. However, he confirmed to the Record on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election.
“My kids are getting older and my mother and father had a few health challenges, and if I can’t give 100 percent to it, it’s not fair for the district,” he said. “I’ve had a good run for six years. It’s time for some fresh blood in the seat though.”
Murphy has been a stalwart on the Council over the last six years, having consistent attendance and a consistent voting record on the issues. He has deep roots in Chelsea, with a very active family here.
There are likely to be numerous candidates for the seat in a very politically active part of town.
That said, one candidate has already likely surfaced in School Committeeman Sean O’Regan.
O’Regan has flirted with a Council run in the past, but decided to always stay home on the School Committee.
Now it appears he will be a major contender for the Prattville seat.
Besides the School Committee, O’Regan and his brother are very active in coordinating and coaching youth sports and sports at the Boys & Girls Club.
Candidates have until Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. to pull nomination papers and return them with the proper signatures. District seats require 50 signatures of registered voters within the district, while at-large seats require 50 signatures from any registered voter in the city.