Letter: Alvarado Seeks to Understand Opposing Viewpoints

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To my fellow Reading residents: 

I voted for John Arena. I even hosted one of his signs on my lawn.

But today I find myself ardently supporting the woman who defeated him in the 2018 election. Now, I have a very different sign on my lawn: “Support Vanessa. AgainstTheRecall.com.” 

Of all the dubious narratives floating around out there (and there are several), the one that has prompted me to write today is that “Vanessa Alvarado is incapable of seeing beyond her own agenda.” In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. 

In 2015, I was appointed to a position on the Recreation Committee and, as a result, have come to know the players in our local town government quite well. Specifically, I have had the opportunity to interact with Vanessa – as well as John Halsey and others – as Select Board liaison to the Recreation Committee. 

When Vanessa was appointed as liaison, I was the chair of the Recreation Committee. She reached out to me directly and we had a few conversations in advance of her first meeting. 

She asked, “What are the biggest issues facing the Recreation Committee?” And, if you know anything about organized sports in Reading, one perpetual topic on our Committee’s agenda is the issue of “no early Sunday play” (the bylaw forbidding organized sports from using an outdoor town field before noon). Residents are staunchly divided on the matter and the Rec Committee is, year in and year out, similarly split.

Vanessa asked me where I stand on the matter, personally. I told her.

And – here’s the part that I keep coming back to – she said, “I don’t think I agree, but tell me why you feel that way.”

We spoke cordially for nearly 20 minutes on the topic. While I don’t think I changed her mind during our conversation, I appreciated the ability to have a civil discussion on an often-volatile subject.  

Do I agree with Vanessa all the time? Certainly not. But am I confident that she will deliberately seek to understand both sides of a topic before a vote? Definitely. What more can you ask for in an elected volunteer?

And that seems to be getting lost in the vitriol — that Vanessa is a volunteer. She’s a mother, a wife, a colleague, a friend, a neighbor – a person with a full and busy life – who is still willing to give of her free time to work to serve our town year after year. 

We are a part of a community. While our individual ideas on how to get there may differ slightly, our common goals are largely the same. Vanessa has proven to me, personally, that she’s willing to listen and absorb the “other” perspective and that’s the kind of neighbor I am happy to support this time around.

This recall effort needs to be defeated handily if this town wants any chance of recruiting good, caring, open, and thoughtful citizens from all degrees of the political spectrum to volunteer and help serve our community.

I will be, without pause or reservation, voting AGAINST the recall of Vanessa Alvarado on September 1st. And I’m asking you, friends and neighbors, to please consider doing the same.

Thank you,

Emily Quinn Sisson
John Street
Recreation Committee
Precinct 2 Town Meeting
RMHS ‘01

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