Letters to the Editor

February 17, 2017
By

Unfounded concerns

Dear Councilor Vidot,

I am writing you tonight to address a very difficult yet important issue. On Monday, January 23, 2017 there was a City Council meeting. At this meeting the Council was going to take a vote on an order introduced by Councilor Recupero regarding the residency requirement for employees in public safety positions in the City of Chelsea.

As a Local, our concern became evident during your opportunity to speak on the order prior to casting your vote. During this time you raised significant unfounded concerns regarding Local 937’s members engagement and overall commitment to the community in which we serve. It is for this reason that the entire membership of Local 937 has unanimously decided to withdraw our endorsement of you in your current position as well as your potential candidacy in this position in the future.

Local 937 holds its ability to endorse a candidate very seriously and with our endorsement we harbor an expectation that our integrity, honor and commitment not be questioned by those receiving our endorsement.

Respectfully,

Antonio Salvucci

President

IAFF Local 937

I’ve upheld my end

As many know, during the 2015 municipal election, we ran a spirited campaign and received multiple union endorsements.  One of those endorsements, was from our Firemen’s Union Local 937.  When Local 937 chose to endorse me during the 2015 municipal election, in their words it was because they were looking for a candidate that would “continue to act in the best interest of public safety” and “someone that would address the concerns of “over-population and economic development as well as an increase of violent crime” and “a candidate who isn’t afraid to stand up to the current City Council, when told that staffing is not adequate”.

Recently, the Local 937 chose to withdraw their endorsement of me due to comments I made at a City Council meeting during a vote requiring residency for newly hired public safety officials.  As a person who prides herself in her integrity, honor and commitment to the city and in the work of our brave men and women in uniform – I would never question those same values in others and am confident that my words were taken out of context.  Furthermore, nowhere on their candidate questionnaire or endorsement letter did it require an elected official to agree 100 percent with everything they requested or pushed in total absolutes.

We as a City Council have been going through a series of transitions with newly elected City Councillors and a new City Manager. The Local 937 has also been in a transitional period with newly elected administrative officers.  Knowing the tumultuous relationship that existed between the Local and the City of Chelsea, I’ve been committed since Day One, to maintaining peace and encouraging dialogue within the departments.  During these times of transition, I have:

1) maintained open and honest lines of communication with union representatives about my political stances

2) requested meetings with former union president and met with the current president to find solutions and common ground during difficult transitional times.

3) advocated for increased staffing of our Fire Department due to the increase in our population

4) spoken up numerous times about the adverse effects of economic development and its toll on public safety officials

5) held a sub-committee on conference to maintain the lines of communication open on the topic of the overtime budget to avoid any surprises when budget season arose.

While we hold our first responders in high esteem, we as a City Council need to make decisions that reflect the entire city and not just for a select group.  I strongly believe in keeping transparency and fairness in the decision-making process.  With every decision that is made, I study a topic, make my own assessment, reach out to residents and weigh out its pros and cons.  With all of my research and thoughtful consideration into each vote, I remain proud of my record as it is always on behalf of the hard-working people of Chelsea and am prepared to deal with the ramifications of those decisions.

I can say with full confidence I’ve upheld my end in fulfilling my role as an endorsee.  If the Local chooses to make this statement, it makes me question any endorsement they might release in the future, for that matter.  An endorsement is valued when it helps forge relationships, and encourages dialogue in a membership.  Perhaps they should re-evaluate their criteria, questionnaire and expectations before endorsing again in the future.

Though short-lived, I am grateful for having had the support of our local firefighter’s union.  I think I’ve accomplished a lot in my first year in re-opening lines of communication between the Fire Department and City Council that were minimal prior to my election.  I look forward to continued work with them in my commitment of being a strong voice on the City Council and “continue to act in the best interest of public safety.”

Damali Vidot

Vice President, Chelsea City Council


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