With the deadline for Nomination Papers for state offices coming this Tuesday, suddenly a race has emerged in the 2nd Suffolk House of Representatives district – which includes Charlestown and most of Chelsea.
State Rep. Dan Ryan pulled Nomination Papers several months ago and turned in his signatures prior to the pandemic, collecting more signatures recently, and qualifying for the ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
This week, in a rather sudden move, Chelsea City Councilor Damali Vidot announced that she had gathered the required signatures electronically and planned to mount a campaign for the seat as well.
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled last month there should be an extension for the signature deadline and a relaxation of the signature requirements to accommodate social distancing measures. That ruling allowed candidates to gather less than the normally required signatures – now 75 – and to be able to do that electronically rather than in-person signatures.
The seat would be decided in the September Democratic Primary election, as both are Democrats. That election is the day after Labor Day, but does feature a high-profile race for U.S. Senate between Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III.
Ryan, who has held the seat since 2014, said he welcomes the challenge and is ready to begin the campaign in a time of ‘new normal.’
“I welcome this opportunity to discuss my record as a legislator and humanitarian,” he said. “This collective crisis we are faced with presents an opportunity to pull together. We need to continue to unite, work in the trenches and deliver services for the people of Chelsea, Charlestown and the Commonwealth. That is my history. That is the leadership that I have always brought to the table, a table that has always had room for one more chair. This I pledge to the people of Chelsea and Charlestown.”
Vidot – who was the Council President in Chelsea through 2019 – has worked well with Ryan over the years, she said, but felt like state leadership hasn’t been what it should be.
“I love my community,” she said. “There is no limit to what I’d do to advocate for the community…I want to be part of these re-building conversations for Chelsea and Charlestown to rebuild equitably. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the current leadership on the state level – meaning state senate and state representative – are not equipped to do it because they haven’t done it to this point.”
Vidot said she has gotten a lot of support from her network in Chelsea and her campaign team, which is ramping up quickly. She said she does have an uphill battle in Charlestown.
“The fact is I know it’s an uphill battle because Charlestown is a different community from Chelsea,” she said. “I don’t know Charlestown as well. I plan to get to know them. The district is different in a lot of ways, but there are a lot of similar issues too.”