LtE: Words vs Actions

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“The older you get, the more you realise that what people say isn’t as important as what they do.”― Wayne Gerard Trotman

When we elect leaders it is far more important to pay attention to their actions than what they are saying. Far too many say what they need to say to get elected, but their actions don’t match their words. 

On May 14th, we have a special election for an open seat on the Select Board, with two candidates for the position. Both candidates promise open communication and working towards uniting people instead of the division we now see. Tara Gregory states on their candidate page, “It’s not you vs. me, it’s you and me vs. the problem.” Melissa Murphy, on her page, says she promises “a professional, respectful, open line of communication with all residents, business owners, boards, and fellow Select Board members. […] Progress is made only when two parties recognize that a person with an opposing view is not an adversary.” Whose actions support their words?

For Ms. Murphy’s actions, I look back to last year’s election and her endorsement of two candidates for the Board of Library Trustees (BOLT), knowing that one of their main platform issues was banning books they deemed inappropriate. Her support was on full display with the signs on her lawn. Ms. Murphy also agreed with a call to hold the entire Board of Library Trustees criminally accountable for felony pornography distribution to children (a crime that comes with jail time) for allowing the book Gender Queer: a Memoir in the library. She made this serious allegation against a six-person volunteer committee of her neighbors without having even read the book. On this issue, Ms. Murphy chose not to listen to the commenters who had read the book and who explained that the pictures were taken out of context. She instead relied on the word of the people supporting the ban on local Facebook pages. Is this the respectful open line of communication, or the not treating a person with an opposing view as an adversary that she spoke of? Her actions do not match her words. 

In contrast to Ms. Murphy’s actions, Tara Gregory signed the anti-book banning petition that circulated around town and drew 1300 signatures. Mx. Gregory wrote a letter with their partner in support of the BOLT members and keeping the book on the shelf of the teen room at the library, stating, “We firmly believe that representation matters and that individuals have the right to not read the book, but they do not have the right to stop others from reading it.” Their actions match their words.

Ms. Murphy also states on her web page, “Now is the time to ensure Town spending is focused on the highest priority items, to ensure that Reading residents can afford to pay for everything and still have money left to cover their own needs.” 

In last year’s election, Brian Curry, one of the book-banning candidates for BOLT, lost the election by 568 votes. A total of 9,280 votes were cast for the two BOLT positions. This was a substantial vote difference (one-third of the 1686 votes Mr. Curry received), yet Ms. Murphy signed Mr. Curry’s papers to support a recount because they did not trust the computerized results. The outcome of that recount? Each candidate had the exact same number of votes that they had earned on election day. This result was no surprise, given the substantial loss Mr. Curry experienced on election day. Still, Ms. Murphy supported this waste of taxpayer money and Mr. Curry’s calling into question the reliability of our elections. Her actions do not match her words.

The fact is, if you truly want a civil, thoughtful, inclusive approach to town government, Tara Gregory is your candidate. Make a plan and vote. Early voting started on May 4th and continues through May 9th, with election day on May 14th.

Christine Parks
Hancock Street

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