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Dear Reading Residents,
I am writing to respectfully urge the residents of Reading to vote against the recall of Select Board member Vanessa Alvarado.
Like many of you, I have struggled to keep up with the various accusations and claims made regarding the process for hiring Chief David Clark that seem to have led up to this misguided recall attempt. Having read the materials presented by Town Manager LeLacheur and the Select Board, I remain at a loss for how a recall could possibly be justified.
The recall seems to be based upon perceived delays in the process of confirming the new Chief of Police; specifically, the Select Board’s decision to hold a public listening session prior to voting. In fact, Mr. LeLacheur’s own memo to the Select Board seems to support this request. In his memo included in the Feb. 11 Select Board packet, Mr. LeLacheur cites to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) handbook on hiring police chiefs as the guidance he found most useful. The second paragraph of that handbook notes that:
“Unlike the appointment of the head of engineering or sanitation, the appointment of the police chief inevitably becomes a political act. No other appointment will generate the news media attention, lobbying, or scrutiny this one will receive. Indeed, in some ways the selection process itself is as important as the outcome. If the process bypasses relevant stakeholders, even the appointment of a clearly superior candidate will be denigrated by those who feel that their opinions were ignored.”
The request to hold a public listening session was not only reasonable but has since been praised as a valuable opportunity by many residents. It was certainly not a violation of the town charter. Why, then, should we recall a public servant who has violated no rules and spend tens of thousands of dollars just to move up an election by a few months?
I am sure there were some delays or setbacks in the process to find our new Chief of Police. As a Human Resources executive, I can assure you that delays and setbacks in job searches and hiring processes are quite common. However, I firmly believe it is important not to rush through the process but to take the time needed to find the right person, especially for such an important position. I am grateful to Town Manager LeLacheur and our Select Board for conducting a thoughtful and careful process and establishing Chief David Clark to lead our wonderful Reading Police Department.
I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I urge the residents of Reading to reject this recall effort.