Diversifying town government is needed now

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published March 12, 2020 in the Arlington Advocate

The town of Arlington has suffered greatly since the racist writings of Lt. Rick Pedrini were published in a statewide police magazine in the fall of 2018. Since then, our town has fractured into groups that are mutually suspicious of each other, the very antithesis of what’s needed for restoring trust in the community. We need to heal our town. We cannot fix a problem unless we acknowledge it exists. And without input from diverse members of the community working as problem solvers, we cannot understand how doing nothing to reach out to targeted community members, or waiting for people to forget, is the wrong approach.

Our town government lacks voices representing marginalized groups which means their viewpoints and needs are under-represented, and often ignored. The town needs to objectively and effectively respond to all forms of hate whether it is published by the police department or displayed at the public schools, which have seen incidents of homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. These problems will persist in Arlington if we fail to diversify our town government.

How can the community truly be heard? On April 4, we have an opportunity to elect candidates that have a professional history and proven track record of prioritizing and working to advance the rights and equity of vulnerable and marginalized people in our community. The entire town benefits. Please vote for this group of candidates that fully understands the pain that resulted from the town’s inadequate response to the very clear evidence of racist attitudes in the heart of our police force and who will bring compassion to our town leadership by taking the time to listen to all voices and be creative in satisfying unmet needs. Michaiah Healy is a woman of color who works as a disability advocate, is a community organizer and leads our Diversity Taskforce; she is running to join our Select Board. JoAnne Preston is a former social worker and current Council on Aging volunteer who is in frequent contact with those who live in affordable housing; she is running to be on the housing authority. Lynette Martyn was an active member of the Diversity Taskforce and founded the Diversity and Inclusion Groups in our public schools. These three women are tireless in their commitment to Arlington and will lead with humility and compassion. They deserve our support.

— Gwendolyn Wong, Lowell Street