By Patrick Scully
It isn’t often that one comes across comments that one has to re-read it to make sure it’s real. In my opinion, City Councilor Stephen Simonelli’s words reveal him to be interested in representing only certain residents of the city to the detriment of others. It’s disgraceful and his fellow city councilors need to be on record about him.
Last month, the City Council approved a resolution supporting residents covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs. It was a strong, symbolic show of support. Councilor Simonelli disagreed. He said, “We have to take care of our own first,” and that he’d like to see “Everett keep Everett people first.” Who qualifies as an “Everett person?”
Last week, I had a very telling exchange with Councilor Simonelli on his Facebook page. In it, he allegedly wrote that “our new neighbors, should stop crying at our Council meetings.”
He went on to say those covered by DACA and TPS should “learn English and laws & ways of city take the test easy enough said [sic].” As an elected official voting on a resolution, he should know the basics – DACA and TPS people aren’t eligible to take any test. Their presence here is by definition, temporary.
When I questioned him, he allegedly told me to “go back to where you came from.” For the record, I grew up in the Berkshires. I have chosen Everett as my home. I’m not going anywhere.
Immigrants pay taxes which pay for fire, police, and other services. They are our neighbors, our fellow parishioners, our schoolmates, our caregivers, our union members, our fellow hard-working parents who only want what’s best for their families just like the rest of us.
Unless Simonelli is Native American, his forefathers came here as immigrants too. I hope his family wasn’t treated like he treats today’s immigrants.
Just what do Simonelli’s colleagues on the city council think of his comments? I e-mailed each and every one of them and asked them. Two of the email addresses provided on the City of Everett website are inactive (a problem in and of itself).
Only two city councilors responded. Both said they disagree with Simonelli’s comments and accept immigrants as a part of the fabric of our community. However, they prefaced their statements by saying they “respect Councilor Simonelli.”
These type of comments and persons spouting them are due no respect whatsoever. I’m left with the questions, where is the outrage among Simonelli’s colleagues on the council? Where are the full-throated condemnations of Simonelli’s statement?
He should apologize or he should be censured by the council.
It is said that local elections are the most important because they impact our day-to-day lives most directly. I agree with that and I am appalled someone with the views of Stephen Simonelli is on the City Council.
Patrick Scully is the former communications and media director for the Senate Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly. He is a communications consultant and writes the political blog The Hanging Shad.