For the third straight year, Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda will serve as the City Council President.
Avellaneda garnered 9 of the 11 votes at Monday night’s council inauguration and reorganization meeting. Avellaneda himself voted present, while Councillor-At-Large Damali Vidot was unable to attend the meeting.
District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown was chosen as the new council vice president, while new District 7 Councillor Tanairi Garcia was chosen as the council’s delegate to the School Committee. District 3 Councillor Norieliz DeJesus joined Garcia as a new councillor on Monday night.
“I was asked if I was excited about the next term, and I said, how could I not be,” said Avellaneda.
Avellaneda said he and his fellow elected officials serve because they want to make the world a better place for their children and neighbors.
“I sat down with the city manager, and we have talked about the next six months and what’s laying in front of us for this council and how we can plan for it,” said Avellaneda.
On the immediate horizon are issues including a home rule petition that will codify mitigation for development in the community, as well as an ongoing process as to how the community will spend American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The president also took time to highlight the historic nature of the new City Council.
“I want to just take time to recognize what happened here recently,” said Avellaneda. “Taking a look at our roster, half of this board is now women.”
With five women on the council, many of them mothers, Avellaneda said the council now more closely represents the community.
“So it’s not just my night, it’s their night, too,” he said.
Avellaneda said a few words about each of the women on the council who were present at Monday night’s meeting and gave them each a chance to speak.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to be here tonight to represent District 3 … and to uplift all of these ideas my city and district has around housing, affordable housing, affordable home ownership and just the right to have a roof over your head,” said DeJesus.
Tanairi Garcia said she was honored to serve the city she was raised in and wanted the best for her children and her community.
“I’m here for it, and I’m here for you guys, and I’m honored to be working with such a wonderful group of people,” she said.
District 2 Councillor Melinda Vega Maldonado said she also wanted to work for the children and people of the city.
District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia said she was proud to serve with the four other women on council, noting that Vidot was likely watching the proceedings online.
“We have four (other) dynamic, powerful women who are mothers, organizers, and advocates, and tonight is your night,” she said. “This is the first time ever that this body actually represents the city that we represent out there. We have more women here, and as I sit here right now, I can’t stop but think about my mother, who emigrated from Honduras to this country and this city seeking a place that was affordable and seeking opportunity, just like thousands of other families.”
Avellaneda said the city and the council have the ability and conviction to overcome obstacles, “but the resources have to come from outside, and only the strong advocacy will get us access to these resources. Failure to provide critical aid and policy changes to benefit communities like Chelsea is measured in the loss of lives and livelihoods, and it’s immoral and it’s unjust.”
State Representative Dan Ryan also addressed the council chambers Monday night, noting that it will be his last year representing Chelsea. Thanks to redistricting, Chelsea will elect a representative from the city in the 2022 elections.
“As much as I love and am inspired to represent the good people of Chelsea, at this time next year you will be represented in the Great and General Court by one of your own,” Ryan said. “Someone who walks the same streets and rides the same buses. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, because when all the issues and policies are debated and ideological lines have been drawn, the foundation of democracy is still geography, and you know the cracks in your sidewalks better than I do.”