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Dear Editor and Neighbors,
I am writing to ask you to vote AGAINST THE RECALL by September 1st – even if you signed the petition. It is vital that everyone consider what we are asking in this recall election. We are NOT asking whether you prefer John Halsey to be a member of the Select Board. You can vote to elect him into office IF he chooses to run in the regular election next spring, only 7 months away. He chose to do a write-in campaign last March and like others supporting this recall he was not elected. This should not be about who you want to be on the Select Board. The people of Reading have already voted. Vanessa Alvarado was elected.
If you want to vote regarding “character”, then again you should vote AGAINST the recall. I have been present for many of the meetings when Vanessa has stood up for her fellow citizens, committee members, and businesses. She has worked hard to ensure that we are all informed and that all of our needs are considered. This was the case when she planned more time so that the Select Board could learn about and discuss the Town Manager’s appointment for Police Chief. I would venture to assert that no one wants a Select Board that ‘rubber stamps’ decisions without understanding them. This was not about ‘who’ was a finalist but about a discussion of the finalists, the process, and the rationale for the decision.
I still wonder how Mr. Ensminger was privy to the confidential information that our Deputy Police Chief was one of the finalists when the announcement had not yet been made public? The discussion Ms. Alvarado was advocating was not about our esteemed now Police Chief, but about gathering public input and allowing board members to have their questions answered regarding ‘the finalists.’ Mr. Ensminger’s premature announcement made it otherwise. This plus Mr. Halsey’s attack at that fateful S.B. meeting escalated into this recall. I am saddened and disappointed in our town and the leadership who allowed it to escalate to this expensive misuse of town funds and town trust.
Ms. Alvarado was also doing her job as the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the creation of Reading’s future Human Rights Organization when she relayed THE COMMITTEE’S desire to allow business owners, clergy, and METCO families to have an equal voice on the committee working to develop an organization that will be vital to their and our experience in our community. When an error was discovered that these voices had been appointed but were not residents which were required by the Charter, that error was rectified right away. Who amongst us has not made a mistake?
I have been a friend of John Halsey’s for many years and have spoken on his behalf on many occasions. Much of his service has been invaluable to the town. If you agree with me on that and believe that he should have another stint on the Select Board, then elect him at the next annual election. Do not disrupt our election cycle by supporting a misguided recall that instates him for 7 months and then mandates that he run again. Now is not the time. This is not about his election. It is about setting a precedent and recalling an elected official and volunteer because she “reportedly acted” in a certain way [actual wording on the petition] The ramifications of this are huge for future volunteers. No one is always going to please everyone. The recall should not be used as a tool to reverse controversial decisions. That is why we have Boards, so no one person has complete control.
The toxic discourse and polarizing in our community is already taking its toll. I have witnessed how hard it is to entice volunteers to step up to leadership roles, and just last week heard a member of the Volunteer Appointment Committee lament how hard it is to attract enough folks to fill necessary volunteer roles in town. I believe that this recall election is a mistake and should be voted down. Please add your vote AGAINST THE RECALL to mine by September 1st. Thank you!
Linda Snow Dockser
Beaver Road, Reading
Former Chair of HRAC and Former Member and Vice-Chair of the Reading School Committee