25 October, MMVII
Candidates for Fifth Ward, Sixth Ward, and At-Large Councilman seats addressed the monthly meeting of the Chelsea Neighborhood Association. The At-Large Council candidates spoke first, then the Fifth and Sixth Ward candidates spoke.
In between, Acting Mayor William “Speedy” Marsh gave an address to the crowd. His speech was rather prolonged, given the nature of his position in the debate. He was supposed to introduce the candidates and ended up giving a stump speech. Members of the audience later remarked how Marsh’s speech was partisan toward Ernest Coursey.
Independent Coursey, Republican Michael Toland, and Incumbent Democrat George Tibbitt are the three candidates for Councilman At-Large. Incumbent Tibbitt went first. “We are in times of embarrassment,” said Tibbitt. On the looming tax re-val, Tibbitt said, “we are trying to make the re-val as painless as possible.”
Coursey was Deputy Mayor under former Mayor Lorenzo Langford. Coursey is from the 4th Ward. He is from a family of 12. Touting his 11 1/2 years as a Councilman and 4 years as Deputy Mayor, Coursey deplores the current state of political affairs. “We have lost our way and we need to get back on track,” said Coursey.
Republican Toland has a degree in Urban Studies. He combines his intellectual capacity with a history of public service. He is a military veteran. On improvements in Lower Chelsea: “that is not the role of City Council. A Councilman can only encourage something that is already supposed to be re-done,” said Toland.
Fifth Ward Councilman Dennis Mason did not have a challenger. Mike Zingarelli was attending a friend’s funeral and visiting with the family. Mason spoke of his record as a Councilman and the various initiatives he has proposed, as well as his committee work.
Steve Layman, an Independent candidate in the Sixth Ward, is a seven year resident of that Ward. He has a history in government. He was a Committee Member and Mayor of Hainesport, NJ. He is unhappy with the performance of Incumbent Sixth Ward Councilman Tim Mancuso. Layman summed up his reason for running: “I want an opportunity to have your voice and choice heard.”
Independent Sixth Ward candidate Ytit Chauhan would be the youngest Councilman, if elected. He has begun to get some media attention. There are people taking his campaign seriously. Chauhan – a cigarette smoker – said, “I support a 100% smoking ban.” Through the course of his speaking he went back and forth between declaring himself an “Independent” and a “Democrat.” Chauhan proposed that the Badar Field development question be put to a referendum.
Incumbent Mancuso reminded people of the threat of the evil elements in city government. He promised that he was hard at work to get the right person pu-in as Mayor.
Carol Ruffu, a Chelsea Neighborhood Candidates’ Debate Moderator, said “We had a good turnout for a rainy night. The audience really did not turn in a large number of question but I think that the public that attended got a good idea of what the individual candidates stood for.”
(Cara Kurtz contributed to this report.)