LtE: A Choice: Leadership or Grievance for Select Board

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Dear Reading neighbors, 

If you want to see the true colors of Select Board candidates Carlo Bacci and Melissa Murphy on display, watch the RCTV candidates forum. This is an election for the most important board in town, and these two candidates turned it into a middle school name-calling embarrassment. I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior in my 4th grader, much less in an elected official. 

During the forum, both Mr. Bacci and Ms. Murphy repeatedly and aggressively attacked Karen Herrick personally. Their biggest criticism of Ms. Herrick being that… they simply don’t like her. 

Mr. Bacci has been on the Select Board for the same three years as Karen Herrick, but at the forum he was far more focused on childish personal attacks, rather than telling us what he has accomplished for Reading. Mr. Bacci complained that Ms. Herrick wasn’t giving him credit for the work she had done with state and federal representatives to advocate for funding for Reading projects. (How many of us worked on group projects with that person in school or at work? The one who did little to no work, but then wanted full credit. Yeah, you know the one.) 

Rather than looking forward, Mr. Bacci spent much of his time complaining about how things happened in the past, criticizing other Select Board members, and rehashing old grievances. Maybe if Mr. Bacci spent more time engaging with our state and federal delegations, he could run on his own accomplishments rather than spending his time attacking Ms. Herrick’s perceived personality flaws.  

Ms. Murphy stated that her main reasons for running were to end the divide in Reading and that she wanted to engage in respectful communication. Yet Ms. Murphy couldn’t even keep to basic civility for ninety minutes. 

In addition to her numerous complaints about Ms. Herrick’s personality, Ms. Murphy also criticized Select Board Chair Mark Dockser over his handling of placing a menorah on the town common. In fact, Chair Dockser was transparent and thorough in his handling of the issue: he publicly explained his extensive research, brought in two town attorneys to explain the legal implications, and discussed the topic in two Select Board meetings. Ms Murphy touted her concerns around the “process”, rather than taking the time to listen and learn from our excellent attorneys regarding how First Amendment laws affect a local government’s handling of religious symbols on town property. This unwillingness to listen to experts on matters outside her own expertise is troubling at best, and potentially damaging to the town at worst. 

This wasn’t the only issue where Ms. Murphy was out of her depth. Punting a question about building a new school for Killam, Ms. Murphy deferred to the School Committee, not seeming to realize that a project of this magnitude is a responsibility shared by the School Committee, Select Board, Finance Committee and Town Meeting. In contrast, Ms. Herrick sits on the Killam Building Committee and spoke knowledgeably about how we will fund and build a much needed new school.

Despite these hostile personal attacks, Ms. Herrick conducted herself admirably, ignoring the insults, and keeping the focus on Reading, her extensive commitment to our community, and her vision for the next three years. To ensure that the Select Board is a functioning body (and not a platform for the petty grievances on display during the forum), Ms. Herrick must be reelected. 

This election is about the difference between leaders and complainers. Who do YOU want leading our town? Please join me in voting for Karen Herrick for Select Board, on or before April 4th.  

Kevin Leete
Main Street

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