Letter: Transparent & Local – It Does Matter

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My family made the great trek from Malden to Reading in 1954, and except for a few ‘spirited’ years I have lived here ever since. Reading was a great place to grow up in, and remains an easy place to be part of. And of course we’ve always had our local, bipartisan politics to keep us engaged, sans the national hysteria; the key word here being local.

For months now I’ve paid close attention to the selectman campaigns. While Mr. Arena has been answering every question, on point, directly, and in detail, Ms. Alvarado’s repertoire has consisted mainly of valueless platitudes and distorted, if not outright false, allegations and criticisms. Apparently she thinks making others look bad makes her look good; pity. And why did she refuse to publicly debate Mr. Arena? We can only guess.

Here’s my curbside perspective:

  • They both support the need for an override; albeit she was pushing for over $5MM.
  • She says we need more transparency. From her side of the aisle yes. But how much more transparent could our town be?
  • She says it’s time for a woman to be on the board; as if several women haven’t already served with distinction. (BTW, gender should be irrelevant. Whether the board is all male, female, or mixed is moot. What matters are intelligence, integrity, and being passionate about doing what’s right for Reading.)
  • She says commercial property owners should pay more taxes; clearly a red herring (it’s revenue-neutral) to entice homeowners to support her.
  • She accuses Mr. Arena of maltreatment of town volunteers. Yet, in a single breath, without compunction, she impugned the integrity of two of the finest volunteers to ever serve Reading, Kevin Sexton and David Traniello. 

I must ask, aren’t these mere opinions, and without basis? And then Ms. Alvarado let the 800-pound gorilla loose: Mr. Arena, and the other old white men on the board, voted against a proposed Human Rights Proclamation. Aha! Sanctuary city here we come.

And then we learn that a national political resistance coalition, RISE Stronger and their local affiliate groups POP Huddle and Sister District are 100% behind her election. Don’t misunderstand me, I get it: this is America, and I too cherish the freedoms we all enjoy. I also appreciate the value of division; inexorably, as it is what fuels our political landscape.

So here we are. In one corner stands Mr. Arena, 35-year resident of Small Town, USA, proven public record and resume in hand, fighting to preserve the town he loves. Mr. Arena’s campaign garners support solely from within the community that he is immersed. And in the other corner we have a national, progressive political conglomerate with membership in the tens of thousands who are desperately trying to get Ms. Alvarado – a 6-plus-year resident, formerly from Cambridge, who is extremely liberal – elected. Why do you suppose this is? Simple: control.

If elected she shifts the balance of power as she will join her two likeminded seated friends, Selectmen Berman and Friedmann. If she wins fiscal conservatism will be lost and more liberal minded volunteers will impact our town government. Remember folks this is not about common ground or bipartisan politics, it’s about control, and change.

And what if the override, that this town desperately needs, fails? Who would you rather have at the helm trying to hold our ship together, a veteran leader with six years of bedrock experience, or someone dealing with on-the-job training? Are any of us consciously able to discount the obvious while betting on the unknown? I hope not. Think carefully ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and neighbors. This is not ‘only a movie’. Wishful thinking and good intentions never accomplished anything, and nothing can overcome brute facts. If we want to preserve this great little community we all need to vote on April 3rd and vote for John Arena. If everyone who can vote does vote we should win the day; losing should not be an option. As Winston Churchill one said, “Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort is, but there it is.”

Please, everyone get out and vote John Arena for Selectman, Tuesday, April 3.

Bob Hayes
Pearl Street

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