Letter: The Override and the Selectmen’s Race

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I want to speak to those voters who are supporting John Arena’s re-election bid for Reading Selectman. Given his support of this override, I suspect many of you feel that to truly support John you need to support the override as well, despite misgivings you have about it.

My vote will be for John, though I have briefly met his opponent, Vanessa Alvarado, and I believe her to be a gracious, intelligent, and well-spoken person. But politically we are far apart on the majority of issues.
I respectfully, and completely on my own, ask all supporters of John who are truly committed to a smaller, responsive government for Reading to vote NO on the override on April 3.
If this override passes, I truly believe our town’s government and our political environment will start changing for the worse. Our town government will get bigger. Less accountable to the average citizen. Always looking for more money from the taxpayers. I have already read on Facebook at least one override supporter state that if this one passes “the town should plan for overrides of smaller amounts every 4-8 years, and some specific Capital Expense projects.” Yikes!
I think some good folks in town who have historically supported a smaller, responsive local government have temporarily lost confidence in this fundamental vision of local government that has worked well for Reading for so long. They probably don’t want to be seen as ‘stingy’. They perhaps are tiring of being in the role of saying no to people looking for ever more town and school services and the taxes to support these.
As one of a handful of visible advocates for a NO vote on April 3, people keep asking me how I can be so persistent and public in standing up for what I believe in. Without a formal organization. No donations. No direct spending. With seemingly just a few others publicly in agreement. Every major elected leader in Reading in opposition. With no hope of local media endorsements for a NO vote.
Well, first, I know I sincerely believe a NO vote on this override is in the long-term interest of Reading, a place I care deeply about. I am willing to strive with even a small group of dedicated citizens to give voice to the concerns of the average Reading voters about this override. I firmly believe a majority of Reading voters don’t want to face an almost 9% increase in their property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1. They also don’t like that the passage of the override will add $4.15 million to our tax base that will increase our taxes in all future years to come. I sense the average Reading voters who defeated the last override, almost 60/40, will come out again to prevent this one from passing.
Please join me in voting NO on the override on April 3.

Brook Chipman
21 Bond Street

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