A small order on the Feb. 25 Council agenda
likely didn’t attract a lot of attention at the regular meeting, but Council
President Damali Vidot said she had hoped it could have sparked a conversation.
That measure, which she introduced, revolved
around looking at the possibility of allowing non-citizens that are here
legally to vote in municipal elections.
Instead, she said, she was greeted with
silence – and a ‘no’ vote.
“We have people invested in our community,
who own homes, have kids in the schools and own businesses, but because they
are citizens, they can’t vote in our elections,” she said. “Why not have a
conversation about allowing them to vote? The fact my colleagues didn’t want to
at least have a conversation is a travesty.”
The roll call consisted of a 5-6 defeated
vote, with Vidot and Councillors Judith Garcia, Yamir Rodriguez, Enio Lopez and
Giovanni Recupero agreeing to begin talking about it.
Vidot said she fully intends to bring the
matter back in 90 days.
“I don’t understand why we couldn’t
entertain this, to allow people to be part of the civic process,” she said. “At
the minimum, I thought we could have a conversation. If I had known there would
be this reaction from my colleagues, I would have organized before. I have
every intention of bringing it back again in 90 days. We can’t be in the habit
of saying ‘no’ without talking about it.”
Other cities in Massachusetts have voted to
allow non-citizens to vote, including Cambridge and Brookline. Such a petition
by the Council would require a home rule petition by the State Legislature. It
would also require legislative action by the State House as well.
The measure in
Chelsea would not allow non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections.
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