Mass. GOP building strong farm team

State Republicans making gains at the local level

IN THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS a few weeks ago, Republican candidates won seats in key cities across the state, surprising many political watchers. In Fall River, Christopher Peckham was the first Republican city councilor elected in a half century. Republican Donna Colorio was the only non-incumbent elected to the City Council in Worcester, where the Democrats rule with an iron fist. Larry Mackin, also a Republican, beat an incumbent on his way to a seat on the Braintree town council.

The new mayor of Westfield, state Sen. Donald Humason, is a Republican, too.

And, in a historic landslide, Republican Rep. Shaunna O’Connell won the mayor’s race in Taunton with 62 percent of the vote.

November 5 was a big day for me personally, too. I was elected to the City Council in Chelsea, a city in which just 5 percent of the voters are registered Republican.

As a member of the Republican State Committee, these results thrilled me. Since Jim Lyons was elected chairman back in January, the MassGOP has strengthened its commitment to elect people to local office and lower ballot races.

We’ve been working to build a stronger farm team. The folks who work in the office helped with voter contact mail and the field team relentlessly knocked doors for our candidates. For my own part, I worked closely with Jim on a campaign to register more Republicans across the state.

I understand that some may say that the PAC known as Mass Majority helped push several candidates over the top. The Charlie Baker-linked Mass Majority spent nearly $270,000 on a series of 11th hour mailers spread across 15 races, including several that backed Democrats.

I was not a recipient of Mass Majority’s largesse. Neither was Mackin or Peckham. In one odd instance, Colorio may have been hindered by the fact that the PAC’s mailers somehow misspelled in bright bold letters the name of her hometown city.

Mass Majority likewise did not knock on doors, register new Republicans, nor stand in the rain and cold holding signs. I am certain that nobody linked with that outfit spent any time in Chelsea.

Regardless, in the November 5 wins, we saw the first fruits of our labor.

Being a Republican in such a Democrat stronghold isn’t always easy, but I love my city. It’s a vibrant and eclectic place. I am involved in the community. I’ve served for five years on the Planning Board. I’m a member of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, and next year I’ll be president of the Chelsea Rotary Club. When my wife Regina and I chose Chelsea as the place we’d raise our family, we knew we could build a happy home here, and we have.

Our city is full of hard-working folks just like us. At the same time, Chelsea bears the burden of urban problems, like drug addiction, homelessness, and access to quality education.

Being a Republican in an urban community has given me a unique perspective on both urban problems and the programs which address them. For example, I’m a big fan of the Chelsea Hub, an existing program with a proactive approach to problem solving. It’s a project that brings law enforcement together with the non-profits, the schools, mental health professionals, and others in the city in a collaborative effort to engage a variety of at-risk individuals and their families (including youths, homeless people, and those suffering from addiction).

The goal of the Chelsea Hub is to get at-risk individuals the help, treatment, and services they need, before law enforcement gets involved. But we need conservative voices in the continuing debate on dealing with the opioid crisis. For instance, funding safe shooting galleries where addicts can use drugs in a supervised setting, a new pet idea of the left, is a bad idea. People need treatment and our efforts need to be aimed at recovery.

Housing has also become a serious issue in the cities of Massachusetts. In Chelsea, we have become a city of renters. When state housing statistics are released next year, we expect that fewer than 20 percent of Chelsea citizens will be homeowners, and more than 20 percent will live in subsidized rental housing.

While the Chelsea City Council has already adopted inclusionary zoning as a means of mitigating the housing crunch among the poorest segments of our city, many middle class people who do not qualify for affordable housing are being squeezed out of Chelsea by the high cost of market rate rentals.

We not only need to build more housing for sale, but we also need to press for projects that encourage more homeownership. Whether it’s resources to help first time home buyers with down-payments, or to build more affordable housing for homeownership, it’s important to help people get a step up and achieve the American Dream of home ownership, instead of simply endlessly subsidizing their rent.

When people own their own homes, they set down roots. They have skin in the game.

We Republicans are the party of upward mobility. We don’t want to create policies that keep people in poverty. We want a growing and thriving urban middle class.

The Democrat stronghold on our cities is a big factor in limiting the educational choices of urban parents. My children go to the Brooke Charter School, where 70 percent of the students speak a language other than English at home, and yet the school’s test scores are among the highest in the state. My family was lucky, we won a lottery to get into Brooke. Most families that apply cannot get in.

Urban families shouldn’t have to win the lottery to get a quality education. We need to insist that our schools perform for our children, and educational choices through charter schools is an effective conservative solution.

The percentage of our population living in poverty hasn’t improved since 1965 when the left launched its so-called War on Poverty.

Liberals have had full control over urban policies that largely haven’t worked.  Republicans deserve a chance to solve these lingering problems.

The Republican Party is the party of growth, opportunity, and upward mobility. Since January, when Jim Lyons and the new management of the MassGOP took over and committed resources to electing down ballot and municipal candidates, hard work seems to be paying off.

Meet the Author

Todd Taylor

District city councilor-elect, City of Chelsea
On November 5, a lot of voters across the state voted for new ideas. It’s about time.

Todd Taylor, a Republican state committeeman, was elected to a district seat on the Chelsea City Council on November 5 by a margin of 19 votes.