LtE: Chris Haley for Select Board – and Transparency!

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Subject: Chris Haley for Select Board – And Transparency!

Three years ago, Chris Haley, a newcomer to Reading Politics, ran for and won a Select Board seat. Last year, one of the graduating Seniors at my son’s high school won the performing arts student of the year award. The director of the program provided a litany of reasons and accomplishments for selecting this Senior, but it was these words that left a lasting impression, “Summer [the name of the Senior] showed up.” For most that seems like a given, but in the context of this award it was more than just coming to rehearsals and participating in the shows and performances, she had put the work in and made an impact to the high school performing arts community. Let me say this, Chris showed up! From not missing a single Select Board or assigned committee meeting, to his shepherding of the PARC, and advocating for a fair and balanced approach to allocating the $7.5M ARPA funds among the competing community priorities, Chris showed up! Chris, the newest Select Board member, provided a steady voice and led the charge for transparency, both objectives he has fulfilled.

For those of you that don’t know, Chris is a small business owner, running an IT firm out of the 2 Haven St building. Given his background and experience, Chris launched, a website dedicated to all things Reading. This site provides a place for residents to stay up to date on community activities, municipal, school and non-governmental. Chris has given everyone from all sides of the political spectrum the ability to present their views, and his interview series has become an immense hit. While in no way related to his professional business, or a Select Board responsibility, ReadingRecap reflects Chris’ belief that transparency in government is a critical part of the democratic process.

As a Town Meeting member, I have appreciated Chris’ efforts to inform and educate voters (including Town Meeting Members) on issues such as the polystyrene ban, trash bin discussions, and other warrant articles that have come before Town Meeting. As a business owner, Chris advocates for a balanced approach to how businesses are treated in Reading, pushing back on a split tax rate and increases that lead to excessive burdens on our small business community.

Chris’ signature effort has been with the Downtown Parking effort (PARC). He has first-hand experience with the dearth of parking and the impact of high-density development. In his own downtown office building he can’t even get an employee parking space. As with all Chris’ efforts, the parking task force effort was an open process, transparent in deliberations, provided ample opportunity for community input, and resulted in specific improvements which to date appear to have made a positive impact.

Chris’ work on the Select Board is not done. He is fully engaged with the hiring of a new Town Manager, and his experience will be an added benefit as the community on-boards a new hire. There are also several critical issues that are expected to come in front of the voters and Town Meeting that require Chris’ steady hand to help guide, including zoning changes for MBTA communities, two potential capital (debt-exclusion) projects (Killam and Sr./Community center), the CPA, and review of prior decisions on split tax and tier water rates.

While I have only known Chris for a short time, his contributions to the community have already proven invaluable. We need his continued leadership as we look to address future challenges and ensure the voting public maintains trust in our elected officials and has insight into the operation of the Town Government.

Please join me in voting for Chris Haley for Select Board on March 5th.

John A. Sasso
Richards Rd.

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