LtE: Select Board Change Is Needed

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Dear Editor,

The town of Reading has the opportunity for change on the Select Board, and I will be voting for Tara Gregory to replace incumbent Chris Haley. Having been involved in town government for many years, and having closely followed the deliberations of the Select Board for that time, I believe we need a Select Board member with a different approach to decision making. We need someone who understands the facts and is committed to a thorough and impartial evaluative decision making process, someone who does not rely on limited personal experience to make decisions. Reading needs a Select Board member who is not guided by self-interest and who respects town volunteers.

During the recent RCTV candidate forum, in his closing statement, Mr. Haley, a small-business owner, held up a Reading school play program and stated, “all the small businesses in this playbook are the ones that support our PTOs and everything, and contribute and give back to the community. What’s absent from this is Staples, Market Basket, Home Depot. While they offer jobs in our community, and I don’t dismiss that, the backbone of our community is inside this flyer.” First, a Select Board member should not pit large businesses against small businesses; our community needs both to thrive. But what does Mr. Haley actually know about Home Depot’s philanthropy and how they give back to the community, despite not purchasing an ad in the play program? Haley here has drawn a false contrast. 

As a mom of two Eagle Scouts, I am aware that Home Depot has been very generous to the Reading community. When my family was involved in the scouting community, it was well known that Eagle candidates could enter the store in uniform with their project proposals, speak to the manager, gather whatever they needed, and the manger would zero out the balance at the register. No recognition was required in return. My son received $149 in materials for his project, which benefitted a local organization. A friend’s son received $343 in supplies for his project on town land, and I am personally aware of a town non-profit that received thousands of dollars worth of materials and the assistance of Home Depot employees to complete a project. I’m told that Home Depot has been a generous Fall Street Faire donor. Mr. Haley might not know of the “giving back” that Home Depot and other large businesses do, but I fault him for implying they don’t contribute to the community.  

And yet, I still think Home Depot needs to pay more taxes to alleviate the burden on homeowners! Evaluation of objective criteria and a lack of self-interest are needed by the Select Board to determine fair policies for the town. I may not always agree with decisions made by board members, but I can accept them if they are made based on measurable criteria and not the feelings Mr. Haley often says he relies on to make decisions. Select Board decisions should not be transactional. Tara wants to support businesses, and has also stated that tax relief for residents is a priority. 

Tara believes that volunteers are the backbone of our community, and Tara has volunteered in Reading with CATO (The Coalition of Us) and PAIR (Partners and Allies for Inclusive Reading) and is a Town Meeting member. Mr. Haley talks about wanting to encourage more volunteers to serve on boards and committees, but he often ignores the recommendations and votes of those boards, as he did recently to the Recreation Committee, on which I serve. Mr. Haley has mentioned more than once that the town should consider paying volunteers, thus taking the “volunteer” out of volunteerism. From my experience, volunteers do what they do because they want to make the town a better place to live, because they want to offer their experience and passion to the town, because they want to meet like-minded people, etc. In return, volunteers want to be respected, not paid.

I will be voting for Tara Gregory for Select Board, and I am encouraged that they will be a positive change on the board. For School Committee I will be voting for Shawn Brandt and Sarah McLaughlin, the incumbents, who have been working hard and smart, and have important projects before them and the experience to see those projects through. I am also on the ballot for Town Meeting in precinct 5, and I ask for your vote. Last year’s Select Board race was decided by only 8 votes, so your vote really does matter! Please get to the Town Hall or Field House to cast your ballot. Thank you.


Angela Binda
Town Meeting Member, Recreation Committee Vice-Chair
Symonds Way Exploratory Committee member
Orchard Park Drive

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