This election season has been like nothing seen before in Arlington. For the first time, a group of people came together to make change in a unique way, to challenge the election landscape to build a more welcoming and inclusive environment, one that embraces its changing demographic, rather than simply tolerating it. We invited and supported the first ever campaign of a large group of candidates, united against racism, who share the goal of increasing the representation of people of color and other marginalized groups in positions of leadership in Arlington. Some complained that what we were asking for was too much. Some complained that what we were doing was not the right way to do it. Some did not take us seriously. Some fought us, some derided or slandered us. Through it all, we stuck by our belief that Arlington could be a town where all voices and perspectives are identified, invited and included in town government.
While we are disappointed with some of the results, we are proud to have played a significant role in increasing voter participation, bringing new voices and perspectives into our town government and centering the campaign conversation on inclusion, representation and equity. We are proud of the thoughtful race that Michaiah Healy ran for Select Board. Her message calling for transparency, civic participation, mutual respect, collaboration and accessibility is one much needed in Arlington. We are grateful to School Committee candidate Lynette Martyn for her courage to talk about difficult topics for APS, including disparity gaps in discipline, MCAS scores, and graduation rates for students of color, English language learners, special education and economically disadvantaged students. AFR believes that Lynette’s commitment to listening to families and improving the district’s communication and transparency would have benefited all APS students and families. Both the Select Board and the School Committee would have been stronger with the voices of Michaiah and Lynette. Despite running as outsiders without establishment endorsements, they lost by narrow margins, 0.463% and 3.7% respectively. AFR thanks them for their courage.
During our journey, we grew from a group of people who barely knew of each other, to a family of activists committed to a movement that is helping shape the future of our town. We faced attacks on many fronts, some from corners expected, and some from those we had counted on as allies. But we pressed on, we persevered, and we rose above.
AFR would like to share some impressive statistics for a first time, grassroots campaign. 44 Town Meeting candidates committed to support the ideals and values expressed in AFR’s Inclusion Platform and two-thirds of them won, half of them first time candidates and half of them incumbents, 25% of them identify as people of color. This more closely aligns with the representation of our community demographics and we hope will set a new standard for future elections. AFR supported ten candidates of color, nine of them first time candidates, and eight won. AFR endorsed 64% of all first time candidates and just under half of them won their seats, many in highly contested races. AFR candidates ran in 90%, or 19/21, of Arlington precincts and won seats in 79% (15/19) of them. Of the 88 seats up for election, AFR candidates won 32%.
Arlington Fights Racism (AFR) would like to thank everyone who voted for our candidates, for believing in our vision of Arlington as a more welcoming and inclusive town. These exciting, contested races and important issues engaged many new voters and helped inspire the highest voter turnout in history, 11,148, or 34.8% of all registered voters voted. By comparison, last year’s turnout was 6,158 or 19.87%. We want to thank our volunteers and their families for all the hard work, late nights and sacrifice these past few months. We especially want to thank our candidates for standing with us, fighting alongside us, but mostly, for putting your trust in us to back and support you.
We couldn’t have done any of this without you, our supporters. Thank you for listening to us, believing in us, and taking this journey with us.
To our candidates who did not win, we appreciate your hard work, we believe in you and stand with you in your ongoing quest for equity and inclusion in Arlington government.The road to racial justice, equity, and inclusion is a long one and we look forward to walking that road with you again next time.
Our congratulations to all who won their races during this historic election. AFR celebrates your achievements and looks forward to working with you in the upcoming years.
Congratulations to new Housing Authority Board Member, Jo Anne Preston on her landslide victory!
Congratulations to Arlington’s newly elected Town Meeting Members:
Nada Fouad El-Newahy, Precinct 1
Asia Kepka, Precinct 1
Rebecca Persson, Precinct 1
Silvia Dominguez, Precinct 4
Sarah Glover, Precinct 5
Laura Tracey, Precinct 6
William Berkowitz, Precinct 8
Elizabeth Dray, Precinct 8
Michael Ruderman, Precinct 9
Susan McCabe, Precinct 9
Sanjay Newton, Precinct 10
Lynette Culverhouse, Precinct 11
Caroline Murray, Precinct 12
Sanjay Vakil, Precinct 12
Guillermo S. Hamlin, Precinct 14
Chris DiMeo, Precinct 16
Sandra Mostajo, Precinct 16
Kaspar Kasparian, Precinct 18
Melanie Brown, Precinct 19
Elaine Crowder, Precinct 19
Katharine M. Radville, Precinct 20
Jordan Weinstein,Precinct 21
Zarina Memon, Precinct 21
Congratulations to these incumbents and first time Town Meeting Members who also supported our efforts:
Michaiah Healy, Precinct 14
Beth Benedikt, Precinct 21