In a sudden move, District 5 School
Committee member Julio Hernandez has resigned – one of the City’s up-and-coming
political figures that many thought had a big future on the Committee.
Hernandez, a Chelsea High graduate, told the
Record this week that it was with a heavy heart that he resigned, and he felt
it was necessary as he had to work more hours and attend college at the same
“When I ran for office, I had more support
from my family,” he said. “As rent started getting higher, I knew that I needed
more income, and while still being in college, I decided to look at other jobs.
“I loved working in the School Committee,
but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask
questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’
education,” he continued. “Student advocacy has always been my platform, to
serve all students the right way. From starting the policy of an outdoor
graduation, to having the opportunity to work with many teachers who really
care about this community. I now believe School Committee Members should be
appointed, because our student’s education is no joke.”
Hernandez, 20, said college, family and
financial constraints hit all at once this year, and he couldn’t in good
conscience serve on the Committee while not being able to show up.
“I know once I’m done with college, I’ll be
back to serve the community I love and cherish,” he said. “I want to thank all
the people who supported me, and are still supporting me in my time of sorrow.”
At Monday night’s City Council meeting,
Council President Damali Vidot said Hernandez had given notice to the City
Clerk that he would be stepping down as of April.
Because his resignation is more than 180
days from a City Election, Vidot said the City Charter calls for a joint
meeting of the Council and the School Committee within 30 days to appoint a
replacement. That replacement would serve through the city election in
November, when the position will be on the ballot.
“Julio was an incredible leader during his
tenure,” said District 5 City Councillor Judith Garcia. “He did an incredible
job while on the School Committee and was a great representative for District
Garcia encouraged anyone from District 5 who
is interested to apply for the open seat.
However, Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda
said the Council and the School Committee may want to leave the position open
until the municipal election.
“I may have some reservations about filling
the post,” said Avellaneda. “There’s only one more month until (candidates can)
pull papers, and then the election is in November. I feel it may be best to
leave the seat unfilled.”
someone to a short-term on the School Committee would give that person a leg up
on other candidates who run for the seat in the general election, Avellaneda
While Gov. Charlie Baker cruised to re-election statewide with 67 percent of the vote, he barely made any traction in Chelsea this time around.
Though former City Manager Jay Ash is a key member of his cabinet once again, the Republican Baker didn’t seem to get much support in Chelsea over Democratic candidate Jay Gonzalez.
In Chelsea, 3,350 people voted for Gonzalez, while 3,115 voted for Baker – a sharp contrast to the statewide results.
During his victory party at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay, he said his administration will continue to build bi-partisan relationships to tackle the tough issues.
“The people of Massachusetts elected us four years ago to bring fiscal discipline, a reform minded approach to governing, and a commitment to bipartisanship to state government,” he said. “We have done just that. Every single day. And today, the voters have spoken. They like what we are doing and they appreciate the way we work. So here’s the good news. That collaborative, purposeful and humble approach to governing is exactly what you are going to get from us and from our team for the next four years. Non-stop. Let’s rock.”
While governor made the headlines, the most active voting took place on the ballot questions, particularly Question 1 that focused on mandated nurse staffing ratios. The question was defeated easily statewide, and in Chelsea it was also defeated with 67 percent of the vote.
Question 2 won with 70 percent of the vote, and Question 3 to uphold the transgender rights bill passed locally with 68 percent of the vote.
For District Attorney, Rachael Rollins won big citywide and in Chelsea over Mike Maloney. Rollins, who has held great popularity in Chelsea, had been a controversial candidate in submitting a “list” of crimes she would decline to prosecute during the campaign last summer. That “list” had gotten a lot of attention after the September primary victory, and she has spent most of the last month explaining the plan – which would essentially divert resources from smaller, quality-of-life crimes to investigate larger crimes like homicide, rape and aggravate assaults.
In Chelsea, Rollins got 4,812 votes to Maloney’s 1,169.
On Tuesday night, Rollins’ said her election reflects a widespread demand for change in a criminal justice system that for too long has not worked fairly for everyone. Rollins has promised to bring new solutions to the office that will break down wealth and racial disparities, keep communities safe and treat all people with dignity and respect.
“I am humbled by the trust the voters have placed in me to serve as Suffolk County’s next District Attorney,” said Rollins. “I am beyond grateful for the hard work of our volunteers and the support of our community over the last nine months since we launched this campaign. Voters sent a very clear signal today that our criminal justice system is not working for too many people and it’s time for a change. We will start by creating an office that adequately reflects the communities it serves and that is engaged with every neighborhood within the county. Then together we’ll make our criminal justice system better and work to strengthen relationships between communities and law enforcement.”
All three of Chelsea’s state elected officials, State Rep. Dan Ryan, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent and Sen. Sal DiDomenico were unopposed, but prevailed with a good vote Tuesday.
Ryan got 3,637 votes in his unopposed race (Chelsea only), and DiDomenico (for Chelsea only) got 5,409 votes. DiDomenico also represents parts of Cambridge, Allston and all of Everett and Chelsea. Vincent, who also represents Revere, got 1,495 votes in Chelsea.
As a side note, City Clerk Jeannette Cintron White said that early voting was a success in Chelsea once again. She said there were 731 early ballots cast this election cycle.
Bob Bishop recently announced his intention to seek the District One City Councillor seat in the upcoming City Primary Election, to be held on September 26, 2017.
Prior to his retirement, Bob Bishop served as Chelsea City Clerk for fifteen years and also held the position of Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Chelsea. Bob also enjoyed owning and operating a small business in the city for fourteen years.
Bob Bishop has stated that he is seeking this office because he has the interest in the betterment of the community, the time that is necessary to do the job well, and the experience to achieve the best results for the taxpayers and residents.
Addressing the recent increases in taxes, property values, and water and sewer rates will be a top priority. Bob has stated, “I have been involved as a department head in 25 of the last 30 city budgets. I know the budge process and how to do what needs to be done for the taxpayers and residents of District One.”
Bob has observed that unfortunately the number of voters participating in local elections has dropped over the past few years. All voters are urged to take part it he upcoming primary election September 26, 2017. Bob is committed to addressing the issues and concerns of the homeowner and residents of the city…Anyone wishing to contact Bob Bishop can do so by calling 617-884-9265 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Matt Frank has announced he will not seek re-election in District 3, leaving former Councillor Joe Perlatonda without an opponent.
As the City Election ballot is getting confirmed this week, with Nomination Papers having come due on Tuesday, District 3 Councillor Matt Frank announced that he would not run for re-election.
Nomination Papers were due to the City Clerk by 5 p.m. on Tuesday and the office was still working on certifying everyone’s signatures, but as of Wednesday afternoon it appeared there would be contested races in District 1, District 2, District 5, District 6, District 7, and District 8.
Surprisingly though, there will be no contested race in District 3 as expected, with Councillor Matt Frank bowing out and leaving former Councillor Joe Perlatonda alone in the race.
Frank said it was a recent decision based upon his work, which is in Dorchester. Having to get back to meetings on Mondays, and to attend community events was becoming difficult to balance with his work, he said.
“After dealing with the Council job and my regular job simultaneously for awhile now, I haven’t really been able to balance the two,” he said. “I had to make a decision and I had to go with the one that pays the bills…The biggest thing is getting back and forth to Chelsea from my work.”
With his exit, it leaves former District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda without an opponent. Many had been eyeing the race between the two, as they were not allies when serving on the Council together a few years ago. Since leaving the Council two years ago, Perlatonda moved to Clinton Street, where he now lives.
The races in District 1 and District 8 seem to be the ones now that are pegged for heavy competition.
Those turning in nomination papers in District 1 include former City Clerk Bob Bishop, Collaborative organizer Sylvia Ramirez, Planning Board member Todd Taylor and School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan.
Only Bishop and Ramirez had been certified as of press time though, but the others were expected to make the cut.
District 1 is an open seat as Councillor Paul Murphy announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.
In District 8, political newcomer Zaida Ismatul Oliva, former At-Large Councillor Calvin Brown and Jermaine Williams have all qualified for the ballot and will be in the running for that open seat as well. Councillor Dan Cortell announced he would not seek re-election earlier this summer.
In District 2, Soldiers’ Home resident and attorney Olivia Anne Walsh will face incumbent Councillor Luis Tejada – both of who are certified and on the ballot.
In District 5, Councillor Judith Garcia will enter into a rematch with challenger Henry Wilson. Both are certified for the ballot and ran against one another last City Election.
In District 6, Councillor Giovanni Recupero will face newcomer Kristofer Haight – who appears to be concerned with issues like public transportation but is not well-known in the community as of now. Haight is not yet certified for the ballot, though Recupero is.
In District 7, Councillor Yamir Rodriguez will face License Board member Mark Rossi.
In District 4, Councillor Enio Lopez will run unopposed.
All three at-large candidates, Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Damali Vidot, will also not have any challengers in the election. All three have been certified for the ballot.
Bobby Pereira will not seek re-election
In yet another shocking move, up and coming School Committeeman Bobby Pereira announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election.
One of the few dedicated members on a School Committee that has trouble showing up and simply achieving a quorum, Pereira was expected to cruise to re-election.
Pereira, who represents District 5 on the Committee, said his decision revolved around the fact that he and his wife, Shirley, are expecting their first child.
“I must withdraw myself from the race because I will be given the greatest gift of all in about six months,” he said. “I found out very recently that my wife is nearly three months pregnant with our first child. I will be moving from district 5, and do not want to be elected to serve a district I am not going to live in for much longer… As for now, I need to focus on my child and their needs. I was gearing up for election season but last week when we were given the news I was faced with a choice. All my life I wanted to be a Dad and now I have my chance.”
Last fall, when Chelsea’s Edma Ortiz began to get increasingly concerned about the presidential election and what was at stake for immigrants and the Latino community, she finally found the time to get to Chelsea City Hall to register to vote in the election.
However, an irregular work schedule that required her to work odd hours during weekdays, and the death of her mother that took her to Puerto Rico for nearly a month in October, delayed her trip to City Hall.
Getting on a plane Oct. 19 to go back to Boston, she remembered thinking that she needed to go register for the election.
On Oct. 20, she went to the Chelsea Collaborative to get the details on how to fill out the documents.
However, she found out she was one day late – the cutoff for registrations was on Oct. 19, many weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
With that news, the life-long U.S. Citizen was disqualified to cast her vote in what was one of the most important elections in modern history.
That and many other similar stories led the Collaborative to file a lawsuit last year challenging the voter registration cutoff – and this week the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled this week that the voter registration law in Massachusetts – which calls for a cutoff for voting registration several weeks before any election – infringes on the rights of voters and should be reconsidered.
The case was brought by the Chelsea Collaborative and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
“We are extremely happy with the outcome on this case,” said Gladys Vega of the Collaborative. “We strongly feel that this law has to change and we are not saying this should have anything to do with same-day voter registration. What it should have everything to do with is U.S. Citizens being able to have their vote.”
The ACLU said it was a victory for democracy in the state.
“This is a major victory for democracy in Massachusetts, as the court agreed that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth every election,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU Massachusetts. “As the Trump administration is seeking to limit access to the ballot, Massachusetts should lead nationwide efforts to ensure that everyone has a right to vote. As champions for freedom, the ACLU of Massachusetts is committed to working together with other advocates and the Massachusetts Legislature to protect and expand access to the ballot.”
Vega said the cutoff limits force people to focus on the election in October and September – times when people aren’t paying as much attention.
However, she said when people really want to vote, they find that they no longer can do so.
“I’ve had people come down with the card to register well before the election and we had to turn them away,” she said. “It was too late. One man tore the card up in front of me and said, ‘Why do I even bother.’ That shouldn’t happen…We have to register voters at a time when no one cares about it rather that at a peak time when people start caring about voting and can no longer participate.”
She said one witness in their case before the SJC testified that more than 6,500 voters had been turned away after the cutoff.
She also said technology has come to a point where a cutoff so many days ahead of time is not needed.
“Enough was enough,” she said. “We felt that this was against the Constitutional right to vote. They don’t need the processing time and documentation time any more. Things are done so much quicker that shouldn’t be a problem now.”
The Court has instructed the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, to craft a law that will be more accommodating.
It will then have to be passed by the State Legislature.
Candidates are lining up for what looks to be a very competitive City Election season this fall, especially in Districts 1 and 8 where long-time councillors announced this summer that they wouldn’t seek re-election.
The hotbed of the activity right now is in Prattville, where several well known candidates are seeking the seat vacating by Councillor Paul Murphy.
District 1 is the most active voting area in most municipal elections and so every vote will make a difference in what looks to be a very close race with very qualified candidates.
Four candidates have pulled papers as of this week, including former City Clerk Bob Bishop, School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan, Planning Board member Todd Taylor and Collaborative activist Sylvia Ramirez.
All are well known in the City and carry heavy constituencies at the outset.
However, as of Wednesday, none of the four candidates had been certified for the ballot.
The last day to turn in signed and completed nomination papers is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. – so candidates have a little under two weeks to qualify.
The other hot district with an open seat is District 8, long dominated by Admiral’s Hill. Councillor Dan Cortell will not run for re-election this time, so many candidates are also in contention.
Already, newcomer Zaida Ismatul Oliva of Winnisimmet Street has qualified for the ballot and will be in contention for the seat.
Ismatul Oliva works for Bunker Hill Community College and is a life-long resident of the city.
Others pulling papers qualifying are long-time former Councillor Calvin Brown, who previously was an at-large councillor before losing out in the last election cycle. Interestingly, though, Brown has also pulled papers for at-large Council, but having qualified for District 8, it’s not likely he will also seek an at-large seat.
Long-time resident Lad Dell of Breakwater Drive has pulled papers, as has Jermaine Williams of Admiral’s Way.
In the last go-around in the City Election, there was plenty of action for the three at-large seats, but that isn’t the case so far this time.
All three incumbents, Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Damali Vidot have pulled papers and qualified for the ballot. At the moment, they have no competition.
In District 7, a spirited race looks to be coming between Councillor Yamir Rodriguez and License Commissioner Mark Rossi.
In District 5, challenger Henry Wilson has qualified for the ballot, and will likely face incumbent Councillor Judith Garcia – who has pulled papers but has not yet qualified for the ballot.
Garcia and Wilson faced one another in the last election as well, so a spirited re-match is expected.
In District 3, known as Mill Hill, former District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda – who has moved to Clinton Street – has qualified for the ballot and will likely challenge Councillor Matt Frank, who has not yet qualified but has pulled papers.
Frank and Perlatonda, when serving on the Council, had many sharp disagreements and are probably as far apart on the issues as any two people in the City. That said, it should be a spirited contest full of dichotomies.
In District 2, Olivia Ann Walsh of the Soldiers’ Home has qualified for the ballot and will likely face Councillor Luis Tejada, who has pulled papers.
In District 4 and District 6, incumbent Councillor Giovanni Recupero and Enio Lopez are the only ones to pull papers and both have qualified for the ballot as well.
The last date to submit completed papers, once again, is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.
City Councillor Giovanni Recupero returned to the floor after being sick for some time, and entered the Chambers with a bang, proposing an order that those over 70 and owning a single-family home would get 100 percent reduction on taxes.
The matter was rebuffed substantially with a 1-9 vote, with Recupero being the lone ‘yes’ vote.
Recupero proposed giving a full abatement to owner-occupants of single-family homes who are over the age of 70. His proposal would have asked the State Legislature to allow the measure under a Home Rule Petition.
“There are other parts of our state that give 100 percent abatements,” he said. “Why not try this out? All we can do is try. This is for the little guy. Why can’t we give someone a break who spent their entire lives in their house? I say we should give them a break.”
However, his colleagues disagreed with the measure.
“This is something we’re simply not allowed to do,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “We voted down a Home Rule Petition recently because it had no chance of passing at the state level…This will make a very good headline, but it’s not a good idea…This is a little too far. This goes in the category of election year agenda items. This has no legs.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he thinks others should qualify for the break also.
“My concern is we have all these other 71 year olds who don’t live in single-family homes,” he said. “If the goal is to help people over 70, this doesn’t even do that…You can’t always be the person who says, ‘Here, take everything.’…We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Council President Leo Robinson said he believed it might open the City up to a taxpayer lawsuit, which requires only 10 to sign a petition.
Afterward, Recupero said his investigation showed it would only affect about 25 to 30 homeowners, and wouldn’t be a drain on the City’s finances. He said he looked into other areas, including on Cape Cod, where homeowners are given 100 percent tax abatements during the part of the year when they aren’t living there (generally the winter months).
He said he did run it by a few state legislators and they thought it was an interesting concept.
“All I can do is try,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to help elderly people with their taxes. Other places have done this in slightly different forms and we could be the first to do it this way.”