Letter: What Happened to One Reading?

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When we moved to Massachusetts from California in 2015 I was excited to be back in a smaller town like Reading—a town where neighbors know you and where people care about each other and the community. Southern California may have wonderful weather and great produce, but people seemed too busy to really take notice of each other beyond a friendly wave if you saw them while in your driveway.

Unfortunately, the tone in Reading seems to have changed this election season. Just spend 10 minutes on social media and you will see neighbors, acquaintances, and even some elected officials rudely dismissing each other’s opinions and passing around rumors without facts.

What happened to One Reading?

No matter the outcome on April 3rd, we will all continue to live in Reading and share the common goal of having strong schools and emergency services and an effective town infrastructure. Every time we allow accusations and fact-free discourse to dominate, we move further away from the ideal of One Reading. Our community thrives when there is free-flowing discussion and debate. When the tone of the discussion deteriorates, people become afraid to voice their opinions for fear of reprisal, and our community suffers. Is this on purpose? As a resident, I sincerely hope not.

We support John Arena for Selectman and are grateful that his campaign invites conversation and dialogue about how to make our community better. It has been disappointing to see his position on various issues mischaracterized and even fabricated, and people’s resultant withdrawal from the political process due to the level of divisiveness present this election season.

Fact: John Arena, as chair of the Board of Selectmen, went to RMLD after multiple citizens asked if the agreement we have had with RMLD could be re-negotiated to bring in more funds to the town. He has never threatened to sell, nor advocated for the sale of RMLD, as his opponent and her supporters claim. He listened to constituents and is currently looking into a possible increase in RMLD’s annual dividend payment to the town.

Fact: During his two terms of service, the Board of Selectmen has appointed 310 volunteers (143 of them women) to various positions in town.

Fact: Town Council advised the Board of Selectmen against signing the proposed “Human Rights Resolution.” Town Council’s job is to make sure we don’t open our town (and our limited pocketbook) to potential lawsuits. John collaborated to modify the preamble to the Board policies making it clear that acts of hate would be prosecuted.

Fact: John supports the Override 100%. His opponent advocated for a higher amount of nearly $5M and her campaign advisors are among those who supported a $9M override amount in 2016. John supported an amount that would not only restore services but would keep the increased tax amount per average household lower to align with feedback from the community as to what residents would support. We strongly support the lower number and Michelle spoke at the BOS meeting in support of a lower amount. Our children are currently in the Reading Public Schools and do not have time to wait for a third override attempt should this one fail.

John Arena has a clear, documented, and positive vision for our goal of One Reading. He has an actual plan to move us forward. He has the knowledge, ability, and experience to help bring us to where we should be: One Community. One Reading. Please join us in voting for John Arena on April 3rd.

Respectfully Submitted,

Michelle and Luke Greenwalt
Strawberry Hill Lane

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