Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley enjoyed tremendous support in Chelsea from a wide array of residents and City officials in the Seventh Congressional District race.
Pressley recorded one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts political history when she defeated Congressman Mike Capuano in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 3, and nowhere did she find a warmer welcome than from supports in Chelsea. Here supporters here, in fact, were some of the earliest to join her campaign this year.
One of Pressley’s most visible supporters in Chelsea throughout the campaign was Saritin Rizzuto, a well-known community organizer.
Rizzuto organized the largest local fundraiser of the campaign when more than 180 supporters came to the Tu Casa Restaurant on Broadway for a meet-and-greet with the candidate.
Pressley, who was introduced by Rizzuto at the event, did not disappoint her supporters, delivering a rousing, inspirational address that had the crowd on its feet cheering.
Rizzuto and Pressley have been friends for 15 years. They have worked together on various issues through the years. Rizzuto served as a board member at Casa Myrna and Pressley was very supportive of the organization that seeks solutions to end domestic and dating violence.
“Because I knew her background, I had seen her in action, and I had seen her be a fierce advocate for people, I wanted to be involved in her campaign for Congress,” said Rizzuto. “Ayanna asked for my help and I said, ‘I’m with you, 100 percent.’’’
Council President Damali Vidot was one of the first elected officials to endorse Pressley many months ago, and campaigned vigorously for her in Chelsea and beyond.
“I stood proudly with Ayanna as gatekeepers questioned her viability and intentions, from the beginning,” said Vidot. “It wasn’t just her impassioned speeches about real issues affecting us locally that drew me to her. It was the depth of understanding in which she spoke about Immigration, transit justice, and other inequities in the district. It didn’t take much convincing for people to join the A-Team. Our local grassroots efforts proved to be successful in drawing out more people than the last similar Congressional race in 2014, despite going up against establishment politicians and organizations.”
Marisol Santiago was also a major force for Pressley in Chelsea, having worked on many campaigns in the past. She said Pressley gave everyone a choice, and also caused her to think about her community.
“Ayanna Pressley gave us a choice,” she said “This campaign was an opportunity to look closely at our shared values and ask ourselves what we could accomplish if we were to push ourselves further. Being complacent has never been an option, nor being a good vote was ever enough. Ayanna spoke to these truths and her campaign for Congress brought to the surface the deep differences between what people were used to and the push for more. Her voice amplified our resolve. Our organizing required us to ask these questions of ourselves and our communities.”
Rizzuto said Pressley’s experience as a councillor-at-large in Boston, coupled with the personal challenges she has confronted in her life, set a strong foundation for her run for the congressional seat.
“Ayanna can relate to the situation of people who have struggled, who have been homeless, who have victims of sexual assault,” said Rizzuto.
Rizzuto said the campaign event at Tu Casa in Chelsea drew a substantial crowd even though there was a last-minute change in venue. “There was an issue with a local venue that wasn’t unionized, so we moved the event to another location,” said Rizzuto. “We pulled it together with her team on 24-hour notice.”
Pressley’s speech that night rallied the troops and kept the campaign momentum going in Chelsea.
“With Ayanna, when you hear her speak, that’s when you know you’re going to vote for her,” said Rizzuto. “I knew she was powerful in communicating with the voters. The voters understood that Ayanna was someone who would fight for her constituents every day. I’m confident that she will be a great congresswoman.”