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I am writing you today to respectfully show my support for Chris Haley, who is running for the Town Select Board. I have come to know both Chris and his family over the past year, and I support him because he is beyond qualified for this position.
The theme of Chris Haley’s campaign is predicated on the steady politicization of our town and the resulting divide that it has created. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, and because of this fact, I am realistic that it’s unlikely anyone or anything can convince someone who’s followed this election to change their mind at this stage.
So rather than getting bogged down into the typical “point/counterpoint” issues, which are bridges to nowhere, this letter is intended to make the following case to the independent, undecided voter:
- The Reasons Why a Person Should Vote in our “Small Town” Election
- What These Candidates Stand For
- Why Their Vote (Really) Matters (This Time)
Why Should a Person Vote in this Election?
I used to think “local politics” was nothing more than a handful of people that were elected to serve a function which was largely on autopilot.
Thirty years later I am ashamed for being so ignorant.
While the federal government level gets all the attention, the decisions and monies that trickle down to states and corresponding municipalities are ultimately used by these locally elected officials.
So, when you think about it, being very intentional in whom you entrust to essentially act as steward of the place you call home is one of the most directly impactful ways anyone can do their part to ensure a bright future for the community.
The problem is, we rarely think about it.
We rarely think about it because we are so busy with a life that has become increasingly more complex and with a work/life/family balance that has become increasingly unbalanced.
This imbalance forces people to prioritize the things that are “most important” day-to-day. As a result, many of us are not as informed as we should be when it comes to things at a local level. This same imbalance typically drives down voter turnout in local elections across the country.
Little do we know that these local elections can significantly impact our lives.
A largely distracted public coupled with low voter turnout opens the door for well-coordinated groups whose interests may or may not “represent” that of the larger community. These groups take advantage of these dynamics to win key local positions and, once in, further their own interests.
Once elected, these people are now an incumbent, and anyone with more than a passing knowledge of politics knows that incumbents rarely lose in a re-election scenario. That said, if the candidate’s actions and behavior are so egregious once in office and enough townspeople have overwhelming voter’s remorse, there is the potential to recall that official.
But recalls rarely gain the number of signatures needed to be successful, except in Reading, Massachusetts, in 2020 when a recall petition was so successful that concerned townspeople obtained nearly 30% more signatures than were required.
In this election, the people of Reading have a second chance to legally vote out a candidate who they wanted to recall.
Whether we have had the time to take the time to realize it or not- electing the wrong person into a position where they are spending our tax dollars foolishly, who acts not in the interests of the town but in the interests of themselves or an ideology counter to what is best for our community can do tremendous damage.
Who Should You Vote For?
I am voting for Chris Haley, but I won’t tell you how to think.
Chris doesn’t tell you what to think either, and that’s why I am voting for him.
He’s a business owner who’s created something from nothing, and he knows what a P&L looks like. He’s built a successful business in IT, which requires not only incredible intellect but a working knowledge of how hardware, software need to be configured to support a larger need.
He’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing anymore as “left” or “right.” Instead, he defines himself as an Independent whose focus and decision-making process is rooted in “right” and “wrong.”
Chris stands for what Reading “used” to be. He thinks Reading is a wonderful place to raise a family, run a business, that the people in it are both talented and kind.
I would agree with him.
Anyone that’s lived in Reading long enough has heard stories of how unfairly Bill Russell was treated when he lived here years ago. What the greatest Celtic to ever live had to deal with in this town was reprehensible and should never be forgotten.
It also occurred before I was born.
The Reading I grew up in wasn’t racist. The Reading I grew up in had diverse religious beliefs, with each placing great value in treating all people with kindness.
The Reading I grew up in had people who cared about each other and their community so much so that they tolerated the exorbitant property tax rates regardless of whether they had kids in our school system. They saw their tax dollars as an investment in their community. This town was united as a community.
Our schools didn’t teach us how to act; they prepared us for the real world as best they could. Our schools taught us the Pledge of Allegiance, “The Grand OId Flag,” and how America was essentially a nation of immigrants but that those immigrants came together in a “melting pot” united by one common belief- the belief in freedom and liberty.
Programs like Metco gave students from the city an opportunity to enrich our school system and gave kids like me an opportunity to friendships I would otherwise not have had the chance to explore. The school system I attended was a meritocracy, and the students weren’t treated differently because of the color of their skin, the lifestyle preferences they had, or anything else- they were treated as human beings.
Realistically, while “-ist’s” and “-phobe’s” existed back, they were not in any way indicative of who we were as a community.
They never have been, and they still aren’t today.
Chris is not someone that grandstands. I can pretty much guarantee you that running for Select Board isn’t a bucket list item for him or an ego trip. He’s simply a well-qualified, regular guy, father, and citizen of Reading who cares about what happens here, and “regular” to me is very, very refreshing in this climate.
His opponent doesn’t like what Reading was. In fact, she thinks Reading needs to change.
She is a founding member of an ad/hoc human relations committee who violated Reading’s Town Charter by handpicking its members along ideological lines and by attempting to allow nonresidents to become full voting members. The result of which cost our town $10k in legal fees to ensure the Reading’s Charter was not violated any further.
She created and supported a new taxpayer-funded “Human Rights Social Justice Director” position that would report to (of all places) the Town Library at a fully loaded cost of nearly $100k. This role’s function would be to seek out and police social injustice in town. On top of that, this position would have no formal reporting relationship or accountability to Town Government.
I’d say that’s a job for the actual Police Department, but considering she doesn’t support them, it makes sense she’d want a committee to secretly police the rest of us.
This “Social Justice Director,” once hired, would create their own advisory group that would meet in secret without the need to adhere to requirements of open meeting laws. If you are hearing this for the first time and are shocked, join the club. When I first learned about this, I couldn’t believe something like this was even possible in our town.
I do not know the incumbent, but I am sure she is a nice person. It’s evident she passionate in her views and authentically feels they would enhance our community. While I do not share her views, I do support her right to believe in what she chooses because we live in America, and it’s (still/kind of) a free country.
Chris Haley, on the other hand, sees the resources of this town squandered on projects that have no material impact on the community at large. He understands that Reading has no industry or reason for anyone to make our town a destination to spend money.
Chris knows that the biggest developments in Reading are just that- developments.
Chris understands that the tax dollars in Reading can be reinvested in ways that improve the viability of our community, and he’s means to supplement your investment in your community with Federal Grants and additional assistance.
He knows that doing this would improve property values, increase the tax base, and allow for further reinvestment. He’s about creating a new, functional, and scalable cycle of prosperity. His platform is based on common sense.
So, Who Should You Vote For?
I guess it boils down to your core values and belief system.
If you feel Reading has a major problem with social justice issues and that the people in it are in serious need of reform (in whatever manner an unaccountable, taxpayer-funded “Social Justice Director” and their committee deem appropriate) and you feel your tax dollars should be invested in this space then you should vote for the incumbent.
If you are comfortable with our Select Board (a historically apolitical entity) becoming radically political with committees being created without regard for our town laws that ignore basic guidelines of transparency, then you should vote for the incumbent.
On the other hand:
- If you have lost confidence in the officials’ you’ve elected (or that you’ve let others elect because you didn’t vote)
- If you are concerned that the core values that have bound this town together, united for literally hundreds of years are being systematically rewritten and, in turn undermining our collective unity.
- If you feel as though the school system which this town has repeatedly invested in has been slowly infected by radical ideologies and has been politicized to the degree that it is now contrary to our collective belief system
- If you know in your heart that Reading and its people are kind, caring people who do not need to be policed on what they say, what they think, or how they act by others whose ideology is devoid of critical thinking.
- If you feel that it is not the role of our elected officials to propagate social issues using public communication with an intent to manufacture division in a community where there isn’t any.
- If you think that regular people with common sense, who seek to build up our town rather than destroy it from within are what’s needed in our local government.
…. then you might just want to consider voting for Chris Haley for Select Board.
Does Your Vote Even Matter?
For a long time and for many reasons, most of our country doesn’t regularly vote. Whether you’ve been pre-occupied, felt as though your vote didn’t matter, or felt as though it didn’t matter who was in office, you’ve been wrong.
I include myself in this group.
While we’ve collectively been asleep at the wheel, people with a narrow ideological view have leveraged our ignorance to get their people in positions of power. These people have subsequently used the town’s tax dollars as they see fit to both cement and expand their interests.
The price we pay for not paying attention to what’s going on in our town (literally) grows by the day, and if this continues, someday we are all going to look around as ask ourselves, “How did it get like this?”. Whenever that day comes, I can assure you that it will be long passed the point where anything can be done about it.
If there is a silver lining to the global pandemic, it is that we have seen first-hand how these people have used their positions to abuse their elected authority to dictate how we should live our lives and how our children are educated.
These people now intend to determine how we act, run our households and they want us to pay for it or else they will accuse you of being a terrible person, an “-ist” or a “-phobe”.
The best way to ensure that racism and inequality exists is to continually talk about how racist and unequal things are.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and the only solution is to break the cycle.
Chris Haley suggests that we spend less time talking about why we are different so we can turn our attention to leveraging our diverse backgrounds and skills to build this town up instead of tearing it down.
Your vote matters more than you’ll ever know this April.
- It matters from a social and community perspective.
- It matters from an educational perspective.
- It matters in how the collective belief system of our children are shaped.
Chris Haley cannot fix all the town’s problems himself. But what Chris does represent is someone that we can trust to REPRESENT our best interests.
It is my hope that the silent majority in this town shows up in record numbers on Election Day to support Chris and support a brighter future for our town.
He won’t be recalled if elected; I can assure you of that.
Deer Path Lane