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Dear Reading Residents:
We are less than a month away from this year’s town elections, and some of you may be planning to mail in your ballots even earlier. I encourage you to join me in supporting Karen Herrick for Select Board, based on her experience and understanding of our town government.
The five seats on Reading’s Select Board are arguably the most powerful elected positions in our town’s government. Although Town Meeting sits higher in the organization chart, its power is spread over its 192 members, and it only convenes twice a year, for a few nights. The Select Board’s biweekly meeting schedule gives it much more direct control over town staff, including the Town Manager, whom the Board hires and supervises. Because of this power, it is important that a Select Board candidate have experience in town government and an understanding of how it works.
Karen Herrick is such a candidate. In addition to her current term on the Select Board, she has been a Town Meeting member since 2001 and she served five years on the Finance Committee, which takes a close look at the town budget. (I am currently a member of the Finance Committee, but I am writing this letter in a personal capacity.) Karen’s website lists several other town committee experiences; I encourage you to read about them yourself at votekarenherrick.com. She has also availed herself of training sessions of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
I probably first met Karen at an RMHS drama production, when our daughters were in the drama club together. Since then, I have been at numerous meetings with her: sometimes I’m interested in the Select Board agenda, or she’s interested in the Finance Committee or Reading ARPA Advisory Committee, or sometimes we’re both attending a School Committee meeting as liaisons from our respective board or committee. Karen has also been active in visiting Reading’s representatives at the state level, leading to earmarks in the state budget to assist the Community Garden, the Food Pantry, and the Town’s purchase of a lot off Grove St. to improve access to the Town Forest (Town Meeting approved spending $450k, and this earmark covered $150k of that). As Chair of the Select Board, Karen led the process to select our new Town Manager, and she has encouraged him to be more proactive than the previous Town Manager in seeking state and national grants, including $500k for sidewalk and safety improvements near RMHS and $4.1M for stormwater mitigation in the Maillet-Sommes conservation area.
I am pleased with the results our town has seen from Karen Herrick’s first term on the Select Board, and I hope you will vote, on or before April 4, to give her a second term.