Todd Taylor is no stranger to Chelsea and its City government and social circles, but due to his Republican party affiliation, he said, he has often presented suddenly as someone not representing Chelsea values when he puts his name on the local ballot.
That changed for the first time in November when he won the Prattville seat on the City Council, and made the cut the third time he has run. It wasn’t an easy process this past election, and it wasn’t in the past either. There were constant rumors about him being a Republican, and a libelous mean character assassination letter was distributed through his neighborhood during the previous election.
It has been a lot for him to take, personally, and he said he will prove to all of his naysayers that he is out to help solve problems with his voice on the Council and not bring destructive national politics into the Council Chambers.
“I got elected this time, and it’s the third time I’ve run,” he said. “There are a lot of people that did all they could to try to keep me out. There are people who are skeptical – and that’s putting it nicely – of me. I want to make it clear to people. I’m a problem solver. I’m somebody who just wants to help solve problems. I’ not coming up here to be Mr. Republican. I do have a Conservative perspective, which could be refreshing, but I care about every single area of society. I had people on Burma Road supporting me. I had a lot of Latino people supporting me and a lot of support in the black community. It’s the people who don’t know me personally that are afraid. They don’t need to be because I’m here to help the Council be more proactive.”
Taylor is married to his wife, Regina, and lives in Prattville with his two children, Alana and Finn – both of whom go to the Edward Brooke Charter School in Eastie. He owns KSM Hospitality Staffing. He is getting ready to become the president of the Rotary Club in June, and has been on the Planning Board for five years now.
That service on the Planning Board is going to really affect how he approaches his Council seat.
One big piece of his platform is home ownership, a major issue that surfaced last year at the Board and in the November election. While affordable housing rentals have been the norm in Chelsea, many residents and elected officials are pushing for increased market-rate and affordable home ownership opportunities in the city.
Count Taylor as one of them, and he believes that his approach can help stabilize the community and keep people from being displaced.
“We need to decide that more home ownership is a key,” he said. “That doesn’t just mean people coming in. It means trying to get people already living in Chelsea to graduate from being renters to being owners. My whole political philosophy is the American Dream should be for people to be upwardly mobile no matter where you start. There are a lot of people afraid of gentrification, but if we’re careful and thoughtful about how we do things, we can help people who feel the housing crunch and try to help them stay in Chelsea.”
He cited that mortgage rates are very low now, and if one can secure a mortgage, it is often cheaper than rent. However, he said people do need to understand that politicians cannot stop the forces of the market completely.
“It is important for people to understand politicians don’t have a magic wand,” he said. “It’s like trying to stop the tide. There are forces that work in the markets…The City Council by sheer will cannot change the course of where people move or don’t move. It’s not a dictatorship and you can’t tell people what they can get for their property. We can only mitigate where people are getting squeezed.”
There are also smaller issues within his district – such as getting to the bottom of the turning lane on Washington Avenue at the Parkway. There are issues of traffic and also about parking.
He said when going door to door last summer in District 1, there were very few people in the Prattville area that didn’t list parking as a key issue. That, he said, is because many people from the CHA Everett hospital or commuters park long-term in District 1.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t have residential parking only in District 1,” he said, “at least to preclude people from parking in the neighborhood who don’t live or work here. Parking is the top priority in District 1.”
Beyond all of the issues, and the philosophies of government, Taylor said he feels his first few months will be about proving himself.
“I guess I’ll have something to prove to people,” he said. “I’m not doing this for the money or because it’s easy. It’s not. I’m doing this because I love Chelsea and I want to see it move in a more positive direction for everyone.”
Taylor will take the seat officially for District 1 during the Jan. 6, 2020 inauguration ceremony in City Hall.