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In several commentaries published during this election cycle, the question of who is the best prepared candidate to successfully execute the duties and responsibilities that accompany the position of Selectman continually arises in the minds of the voters. Before Reading voters travel to the polls on Tuesday, April 3rd, they indeed have a right to know which candidate is fully prepared to guide the residents in this town through the uncharted waters we are now facing, not knowing whether the override will pass or fail.
A clear and definitive answer to this question of who is most prepared has emerged from a member of the Board of Selectmen itself. At the January 9th, 2018 BOS meeting, Selectman Barry Berman stated: “I served on the Finance Committee for seven years and dealt with seven years of budgets, so I felt I was pretty prepared day one to step into this chair into this role.” He further expanded: “However, there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know. A lot of policy, a lot of things about what the Board does that I didn’t do in my other roles on Town Meeting and Finance.”
Selectman Berman emphatically stated that there is no way to prepare for serving on the Board of Selectmen; there’s obviously a learning curve. He further expressed his concern about newly elected members coming on board who are not prepared for the serious responsibilities that accompany their position, even referencing the most recently elected member, Mr. Friedmann. Mr. Berman lamented, “We don’t have an on-boarding process. We don’t have a mentoring program. We don’t have any kind of formal or informal way for a new member of the board to kind of get up to speed really quickly.” (See RCTV link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6i6Mz01rAU&t=5879s). It was gratifying to hear what we, as informed voters, have known all along. Candidate Alvarado cannot possibly step into the position with any degree of preparedness. I totally agree with Mr. Berman’s contention that there is no way “for a new member of the Board to get up to speed really quickly.”
How can Reading voters, in good conscience, gamble with electing an individual who has far less experience than Mr. Berman, who readily admits there was a lot of stuff that he didn’t know even with his seven years experience on the FinCom? Why would voters possibly place the future of our town at risk by electing a person who is totally unprepared to make policy decisions that will affect every Reading family at this critical juncture? Why would any common sense voter ever elect a person who does not have a solid understanding of the magnitude and consequences connected with the outcome of the override question? The answer is simple: we cannot elect Ms. Alvarado, because according to Mr. Berman there is no “formal or informal way for a new member of the Board to get up to speed really quickly.” The voters of Reading cannot afford to waste time with a “Candidate in Training.”
On Tuesday, April 3rd, I urge Reading voters, once they enter the privacy of the voting booth, to set aside all the noise and external pressures, and take a mindful moment to follow their moral compass. There is only one candidate who is eminently prepared with the competency, the character, and a proven record of accomplishments ready to serve ALL the residents in Reading on day one. That person, unquestionably, is JOHN ARENA.
Eileen Shine Litterio