In the end, it was a unanimous vote by the
School Committee to enter into negotiations with Almudena Abeyta as the next
superintendent of schools, although it took a handful of votes to reach that
The Committee met Thursday, May 9 to
consider three finalists to replace Mary Bourque, who is retiring this year
after more than 30 years in the Chelsea schools.
While each of the three finalists for
superintendent garnered some support from Committee members Thursday night,
Abeyta, currently the assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and
Assessment for the Somerville Public schools, had the majority of the support
from the board throughout four votes.
While there was not unanimous support for
Abeyta from the get-go, Committee members universally praised the high quality
of all three finalists. In addition to Abeyta, the other two finalists were
Anthony Parker, the Weston High School principal, and Ligia Noriega-Murphy,
assistant superintendent of secondary schools in the Boston Public Schools.
“Chelsea is very lucky tonight to have three
outstanding candidates,” said At-Large School Committee member Frank DePatto.
“The city is in good hands with any of the candidates.”
DePatto noted that having three highly
qualified candidates did make for a difficult decision for the Committee
members, a sentiment echoed by District Five School Committee member Henry
Wilson – who just joined the Committee a few weeks ago.
“I changed my mind and then I changed my
mind again,” said Wilson. “Today, I did a lot of praying.”
District Seven School Committee member Kelly
Garcia said Abeyta was the candidate who spoke most to her as an educator.
“She answered every question with calmness, urgency,
confidence, and experience,” said Garcia.
In the first round of voting, it looked like
Abeyta was in as the choice of the School Committee with a 5-3 vote. The
Committee’s ninth member, Rosemarie Carlisle, could not attend the meeting
because of a medical issue.
However, after some legal consultation, it
was determined that the vote was taken after only one name was entered into
nomination. Under procedure, the Committee should have entered all candidates
being considered into nomination.
During that round of voting, Abeyta fell
just short of a majority, garnering four votes, with Noriega-Murphy getting
three and Parker grabbing one vote. A second round with the top-two vote
getters ended with a 5-3 majority for Abeyta, enough to secure approval.
DePatto, who voted for Noriega-Murphy during
the open nominations, made the motion to make the vote unanimous for Abeyta.
Even though he
backed Noriega-Murphy, after the meeting, DePatto said he was happy with the
outcome of the meeting.
By Seth Daniel
Three city councillors were honored by their colleagues on Monday night, Dec. 18, at their last Council meeting.
Councillors Matt Frank, Dan Cortell and Paul Murphy were honored for their service on the Council, and presented with plaques.
District 3’s Matt Frank was given a send-off by Councillor Judith Garcia.
Councillor Roy Avellaneda sent off District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell, saying it’s not an easy talk to represent Admiral’s Hill and the rest of the district as they are outspoken.
Finally, Councillor Damali Vidot gave a send off to District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy. She said Murphy was a mentor to her and was always willing to support her initiatives and petitions in the early days of her advocacy.
The ballot has been set this week for the November City Election and four legitimate races have emerged – one in the at-large category and three at the district seat level.
First and foremost was the surprising entrance into the race of Bob Bishop in the District 1 race. Bishop, the former City Clerk, will make a run against District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy.
Those on the inside circles are already starting to handicap this race, which will feature a veteran of Chelsea politics and an established sitting councillor in the Prattville area – which is the most active and outspoken area of the City.
Bishop is a former alderman and his daughter recently held the District 1 seat. Meanwhile, Murphy is the son of ever-popular Chelsea District Court Magistrate Kevin Murphy. Many believe Bishop will give Murphy a run for his money, but there is a strong contention among the know-it-alls that Murphy might be too strong in the district right now.
Time will tell as the campaigns begin to materialize.
Another surprise race came in District 2, where newcomer Todd Nordstrom – a family man who lives on Washington Avenue with his wife and kids – has jumped into the race against Chris Cataldo.
Nordstrom was involved and outspoken during the prolonged rehabilitation of Washington Avenue and apparently is taking that momentum and applying it to politics.
There’s no telling how this race might pan out.
Cataldo has not been a councillor who has been everywhere all the time, and neither has he been a councillor that makes a lot of noise at City Hall. Nevertheless, he has represented the district well, and it will be the person who works the hardest to meet voters that wins this one.
The final district race has already been well-publicized as challenger Henry Wilson has come out strong very early against District 5 incumbent Joe Perlatonda.
The two have already had their differences, and the campaign in that district has already begun in earnest.
The final race for the ballot will be the at-large race, where four candidates are vying for three seats.
The lone challenger is political veteran Deborah Washington – who has indicated she will be out working hard in this election cycle and competing for one of the three seats.
Her battle will be uphill, though.
Sitting incumbents in the at-large race have shown to have a good deal of popularity and political muscle in the City – including Leo Robinson, Calvin Brown and Brian Hatleberg. All three incumbents have been very active over the last several years, and have contributed routinely at Council meetings.
Once again, a consistent and strong effort makes this one too close to call. However, a minimal campaign will make winning an uphill battle.
Those qualifying for the ballot, but having no challenger are:
•Matt Frank, District 3
•Paula Barton, District 4
•Giovanni Recupero, District 6
•Clifford Cunningham, District 7
•Dan Cortell, District 8