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Dear Reading Neighbors,
“The mark of a true leader is to acknowledge there is a problem. Then being brave enough to address it with an open mind.”
This quote was taken from Vanessa Alvarado’s Select Board page on Facebook (March 19, 2018). Specifically, from a commentary titled “There’s a Reason for the Trust Gap.” It was a post that talked about not trusting our elected officials and a lack of transparency from same and how we, the voters, could fix that. Namely, elect Vanessa Alvarado to the Board of Selectmen. So, in April 2018, we did.
Spring forward to today and we’re less than a month out from a special election to remove Ms. Alvarado from the very same Board. More than 2,000 of our neighbors thought that certain of her actions were egregious enough to warrant this drastic measure. Indeed, a recall election has never happened in Reading.
Over the past six months, from filing to today, we haven’t heard much from Ms. Alvarado. I, for one, was anxiously waiting for her to help us understand what went wrong, to explain her side of the story. I was expecting the transparency she promised during her campaign. It didn’t happen. Instead, she thought it was better to listen to her lawyer and so remained largely silent on the matter. Talk about a trust gap.
What Ms. Alvarado did do, however, was allow some of her supporters to turn this recall into a very ugly affair. Anyone keeping up with the matter has undoubtedly seen their reasoning behind the recall: It’s “political retribution” or it’s because of an “undercurrent of hate” or because John Arena and his group are racist and misogynistic. Less melodramatic supporters have called it petty, a bullying tactic, or claim it’s sour grapes.
When we did hear from Ms. Alvarado, her message wasn’t one of concern or unity or filled with thoughts on how we could get our town back on track. It was divisive and proved that she actually wasn’t “Someone eager to engage with residents …” as that March 18h Facebook commentary proclaimed.
On March 18, 2020, in another Facebook post to her campaign page, Ms. Alvarado wrote that a special election “could send a chilling message to anyone who volunteers for our town: Do exactly what we want, how we want it, or we’ll make life in this town miserable for you.” It was exactly the kind of rhetoric we heard from her supporters and was meant to do nothing more than deflect and scare us into voting against the recall. This is not the mark of a true leader.
The fact of the matter is that a recall election is perfectly within our scope as taxpaying citizens. It doesn’t mean we hate someone for being a woman or a Democrat or because our friend lost the seat he wanted. It simply means that an elected official greatly overstepped and lost the trust and respect of a large number of voters. There is nothing nefarious going on and there is no ugly underbelly, despite what her supporters would have us believe.
Over 2,000 women, men, teachers, policemen, firefighters, small business owners, and neighbors feel that Ms. Alvarado should be recalled now before she can do more damage. Plain and simple.
Van Norden Road