Letter: Take a Breath, Not a Recall

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Dear Residents of Reading,

For many years, I have done my best to be an informed citizen, participate and give back to our community when I can. Never have I seen what transpired prior to Wednesday evening’s Select Board meeting. However, the words of Select Board member, Mark Docksor eased my mind and worries because they were the truthful words of a leader who was not afraid to take responsibility, point out that “ as community leaders, we ALL fell down” and made a sincere attempt to lead people back towards being neighbors. “We need to take a breath, get re-centered and continue to move Reading forward.” Let’s take that breath and not a recall of Vanessa Alvarado!

Per Reading’s Charter, recalls may proceed without having to fit within a prescribed set of grounds. A recall is a serious endeavor to file and knowing Vanessa. Alvarado won the race against the former incumbent John Arena at the time makes me PAUSE because it was Mr. Arena himself that filed the papers for this recall. A recall will cost our town thousands of dollars and will result in a mass expenditure of negative and divisive energy. We have a choice because we have a vote every year in our local elections.

The short term, crestfallen implications as I see it are Ms. Alvarado’s name and reputation continues to be called into question even after the timeline clearly illustrates there was no slow-rolling and Chief David Clark has been sworn into duty. Within six months, our Town Manager moved a finalist forward and our Select Board moved as quickly as they were able to within the confines of Open Meeting Law to process the confidential information they received, seek what they needed to fill in the gaps and attain additional information most Select Board members felt they needed and provided an opportunity for public input. A recall casts a dark shadow over all the elected officials who are serving presently and all candidates who are running for both School Committee and Select Board. They all are on notice because anyone at any time can file for a recall against them without any grounds. This is incredibly disheartening!

The long- term effects are even worse. Who will step up in the future to serve knowing their name could be all over social media at any given moment if they make a mistake, do something that angers a resident, fail to articulate what they are thinking and feeling in the moment clearly and with enough context to satisfy everyone? It will be a community health issue for Reading because we will have lost sight of giving people the benefit of the doubt, accepting apologies, forgiving, expressing ourselves by voting and giving credence to the outcomes with dignity and grace. We will daunt the amazing spirit of volunteerism we have held in such high esteem for decades. Most residents won’t place their families in harm’s way to volunteer countless hours to be chastised for being human. Would you?

Instead of recalling, let’s work on restoring our community back to good health, ask the questions we would like answers to (but not on social media), and model for our children how we can successfully work together to solve complex problems. Let’s take a deep breath and not a recall.


Michele Sanphy
Glenmere Circle   

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