Letter: Character – A Precedent Worth Preserving

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Ms. Alvarado’s lack of accountability and open dialogue should be deeply troubling to all Reading voters. Over the last six months, she has remained surprisingly silent with a few exceptions: the day before the recall petition’s certification, the days leading up to her hearing when she withdrew 912 unsubstantiated signature objections, and now the days before her recall. Her modus operandi reveals she is not interested in communicating with the voters to acknowledge her transgressions against the Town Charter and Select Board rules of conduct. She remains intransigent and unapologetic to the voters whom she took an oath to serve.   

Likewise, her supporters have failed in their attempts to defend Ms. Alvarado’s blatant disregard of her oath to abide by the Town Charter and her reprehensible infractions cited in the recall petition. Ms. Alvarado’s supporters realize it is impossible to justify her failed tenure as a Select Board member. Instead, they deflect the conversation to false premises. To justify her violations, they pivot to blaming her gender, political affiliation, and an overreach precedent. Once again, her lack of accountability rears its ugly head. 

Ms. Alvarado’s gender plays NO role in this recall petition. Women like Sally Hoyt and Camille Anthony, to name a few, are outstanding examples of highly intelligent, respectful, responsible Select Board women who served Reading embracing the mandate for accountability in the discharge of their duties. They and other women will always be remembered for their selfless contributions to literally thousands of Reading families. 

For Ms. Alvarado and her supporters to blame political affiliations on her recall is contemptible. Politics played absolutely NO role in the voters’ right to sign a recall petition to remove a sitting SB member who violated the Town Charter and SB regulations. As it has been sensibly and rightly stated in the past, paving roads, plowing snow, and filling potholes is an apolitical activity. 

Ms. Alvarado’s supporters have now moved toward characterizing the recall election as an “overreach” and setting a “dangerous precedent.” They disregard the fact that it is almost never used, and it is a democratically designed, allowable process with standards that have been lawfully met or exceeded at every stage. Ignoring these facts, they warn undecided voters that recalling Ms. Alvarado will result in repetitive use of recall elections going forward, with all town volunteers in peril. This is a scare tactic masquerading as moral superiority. 

Furthermore, a single recall in 30 years is not “overreach.” For those who legitimately hold that concern: recognize that the safety mechanism against its “abuse” is built into the very charter language that creates its existence. The charter requires substantial voter participation to generate a recall election. 10% of all registered voters must sign. In recent isolated Town elections, TOTAL turnout of ALL participating voters has been 11.3-18.3%. In addition to that high bar for the number of signatures required, petitioners must accomplish that feat in a very short amount of time and demonstrate balanced representation across all eight precincts. Even then, the signatures submitted do not suffice; they must stand up to certification by the Board of Registrars and then must sustain any later challenges to signature veracity. These strict requirements prevent the possibility of illegitimate, public-interest use of recall elections. 

In 2018, Ms. Alvarado trumpeted her character, her executive experience, and commitments to accountability and transparency as reasons to elect her. After less than two years in office, enough instances of bad faith, delays of process disguised and misrepresented as “due diligence,” and violations of the charter’s purpose have been documented by multiple persons, including a colleague.  

Presently, Reading voters have access to a vast amount of documented facts, as evidence of her violations and of her dereliction of duty. Deflecting, rather than taking any responsibility, rings hollow to undecideds who seek factual information, a host of which IS available at fortherecall.com , including relevant Select Board meeting transcripts, YouTube videos, written transcripts, Town records requests, personal text messages, and emails. They are all there for any voter who is seeking the truth.

Personal character is an important quality in all elected officials. Character is what reassures voters that their elected officials will act as they promised to—this includes after voters have placed them in power and have returned to their homes and to their everyday lives. Character means protecting the voter’s interests above one’s own agenda. In her service to the town, Ms. Alvarado has circumvented accountability to the Charter and concerned voters to such an extent that citizens have no recourse but to invoke their Charter-given right for the first time in its history. I invite all who value these attributes to vote FOR THE RECALL on or before Tuesday, September 1st.

Character counts – now that’s a precedent worth preserving. 

Bill Burditt (Selectman, 1992-1995)
Holly Road

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