We all want to feel safe in our community but the hard truth is that racism is embedded in our town governance and police force, and many residents are unsafe and unseen.
On Tuesday, September 22, Arlington’s leaders tried to close the final chapter and “move beyond” Lt. Pedrini’s racist and hate-filled writings. With hollow commitments to continue the “broader discussion around race and equity” in Arlington, town leadership again fails to understand that they cannot employ openly racist police officers and tout our town as safe and inviting for everyone.
Arlington Fights Racism reiterates our concern that the racist and violent words of Arlington police Lieutenant Rick Pedrini have caused grievous harm towards all those who were targeted in his writings. The inadequate response to those writings, beginning with Arlington’s use of the illegitimate restorative justice process and the lingering questions over how this troubling story can be brought to a reasonable conclusion, continues to cast a pall over the image of the Town as a progressive community that cares for it’s marginalized residents, and has served to embolden white supremacists.
In recent weeks over a dozen Black Lives Matter signs and banners and a mural have been defaced across the Town of Arlington- at homes as well as in front of our schools and churches, some marked with KKK imagery. Additionally, acts of intimidation have been occurring against people participating in the daily vigils along Mass Ave in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Arlington Fights Racism (AFR) stands in solidarity with our Black neighbors, as well as all other individuals targeted by this white supremacist organization including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Jewish, and Muslim members of our community. We will never be silent about such harm done to our community members. We now know that a Blue Lives Matter rally, co-organized by the wife of Arlington Police Officer Robert Pedrini and America Backs the Blue is scheduled to take place in Arlington this Thursday, September 10th. Town manager Adam Chapdealine issued a statement stating that “the organizers of this event are affiliated with “Act for America,” an organization that has been designated as a hate group by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.” A similar rally hosted by this group in Medford recently attracted white supremacists who used hate speech and threatening behavior.
AFR supports the members of our community who are most affected by these hateful acts, and recognizes the pain that is repeatedly being brought to their doorsteps, their spirits, and their sense of belonging. The Town collectively needs to have zero tolerance for racism in our community; otherwise Arlington will likely continue to suffer from high rates of hate crimes like these.
Coverage of the vandalism of BLM signs in Arlington can be found in both national news sources, including the Washington Post, and several local news stations. This is not the first time our town has received broad news coverage for issues of systemic racism. Last year, we were shocked by multiple acts of arson at a local Jewish place of worship. Earlier in the summer Arlington drew national attention for the vandalism of a BLM banner at Arlington High School, which resulted in hundreds protesting with Arlington High’s Black Student Union. The Boston Globe published an article outlining the systemic racism that contributes to persistent racial disparity gaps in our school disciplinary rates; and NPR broadcast a segment about APS entitled, “What it’s Like to Be a Student of Color.” Most widespread however, was the news coverage of Lt Pedrini. Not only was his racist manifesto published in a statewide police journal, but the coverage traveled far via Newsweek. His words can be found across the country on police websites, not as a condemnation, but as a warning for police officers: “If you are going to be loud, be wise.”
Commitments have been made and some steps taken toward addressing our problems with systemic and institutional racism; but until we express a stronger desire to change, Arlington will continue to struggle with diversity and equity issues in the hiring and retaining of teachers and employees of color, and our community will suffer as a result. Until we demonstrate by our actions our willingness to change – that is, by deep policy changes and daily engagement with the issues- we will not attract more residents of color or businesses owned by people of color because people of color will choose more welcoming places to live and work. Unless we change the narrative some members of our community will continue to be afraid to report crimes, be reluctant to run for office or be too intimidated to speak up.
The town must demonstrate anti-racism in action. By keeping Lt. Rick Pedrini on its payroll Arlington ensures that your taxpayer money actively contributes to this hostile town culture. Residents should fully expect that our town will continue to embolden the rise of white supremacy if we do not take a material stance against it. We can’t sit around and complain to each other and hope for a better future. Each and everyone of us must actively do something right now to make that future a reality. Change can only happen when we act. It is not too late for the Town of Arlington to pursue termination of Lt Pedrini. He might very well be reinstated in arbitration, but the Town will have nonetheless sent an overdue message to the APD, to the community, and to white supremacists terrorizing our neighborhoods that racism will not be tolerated in Arlington and that Black Lives do matter to us.
Arlington Fights Racism is also reflecting on how we can better serve Black lives in Arlington. As such, we are pursuing the development of an Accountability Council consisting of community members who identify with a marginalized demographic, prioritizing Black and Brown voices. Please contact us if you are interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arlington needs real leadership and substantive reform. Ask our Town Manager to commit to these 10 proposals to prevent another case like Pedrini’s, to make Arlington a safe and welcoming town for all, and to promote APD accountability and reform.
To prevent something like the Pedrini case from happening again, we ask the Town to:
Develop a town wide Communications Policy as part of Arlington’s Code of Conduct, and make it a mandatory part of all future labor union contracts.
Create an Arlington Police Department policy specifying that Restorative Justice (RJ) only be considered after an arrest as an alternative to charging a detainee with a non-violent criminal offense, and is not to be used for personnel matters or in cases involving misconduct by our elected or appointed officials.
Reverse the potentially harmful precedent set by Arlington’s use of restorative justice by publicly stating that it was a mistake to use RJ as discipline for an officer and that the process was unsuccessful.
To make Arlington a safe and welcoming town for all and to promote APD accountability and reform we ask the Town to:
Fire Lt. Pedrini.
Support the passage of Warrant Article #6: To Study the Creation of a Police Civilian Review Board at the November Special Town Meeting.
Have the Arlington Police Chief publish a statement that denounces Lt. Pedrini’s writings for their racism and for their advocacy of violence.
With the guidance of marginalized communities, reallocate a significant percentage of the police budget and reassign current police responsibilities to agencies better qualified to provide these social services, including housing, education, healthcare, and non-violent crisis intervention and resolution.
Clearly communicate to Communities for Restorative Justice that they must discontinue their dangerous practice of using RJ where there is a power differential or with a large harmed community.
End the APD’s contract with Communities for Restorative Justice.
Support Warrant Article #25 to keep the Black Lives Matter banner at Town Hall.
By Jenna Russell Globe Staff
He had never shared the story outside his family, holding his frustration close. But after Minneapolis police pressed the life out of George Floyd, J. Mike Remy felt compelled to end his silence.
He had never shared the story outside his family, holding his frustration close. But after Minneapolis police pressed the life out of George Floyd, J. Mike Remy felt compelled to end his silence.
J. Mike Remy, a former data analyst for Arlington Public Schools.ERIN CLARK/GLOBE STAFF
So one night in late May as protests filled the streets, Remy turned his cellphone camera on himself. Calmly, the 36-year-old data specialist explained what had driven him to leave his job with Arlington Public Schools in 2017: He had voiced concerns to the superintendent about racial disparities in student discipline — Black and Hispanic students, and those with disabilities, were punished much more often than whites — and believed he had been instructed, in response, to play down his findings.
“It’s always eaten at me,” he said, “that I had to swallow that and live with it.”
To his surprise, the six-minute video caught fire online, racking up more than 25,000 views and hundreds of comments, and eliciting a forceful rebuttal from Arlington’s schools superintendent, Kathleen Bodie. “We did delve into the data,” she said, “and have done so for many years,” spending thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars to address disparities.View this post on Instagram
The controversy was just one of the sparks igniting conversations about race in Arlington, one of countless places where such dialogue has surged.
A national uprising against racism has reinvigorated criticism of persistent racial inequalities in education, in mostly white suburbs as well as more diverse cities. With more vocal support from white allies — and diminishing concern about the costs of speaking boldly — Black and Latino students, parents, educators, and community leaders are increasingly willing to call out inequality and demand change, risking the discomfort that such conversations bring.
In Arlington, 6 miles northwest of Boston, Black students spurred by Floyd’s death as well as their own encounters with racism have stepped up their activism, protesting injustice in their school system last month outside town hall. Parents, too, have raised their voices, writing publicly this spring of their misgivings about sending their Black and brown children to local schools.
“A town that says it values education could do more, and it should,” said Jon’s Allison-Cardoso, who recently published a letter, co-written with two other mothers, about their children’s experience as students of color in Arlington. “It’s hopeful that so many people are raising their voices and saying, ‘This is our experience — hear us; don’t ignore us.’”
In well-off Arlington, where the median home price tops $700,000, race has been relatively easy to ignore — at least for the majority. The town was 95 percent white 30 years ago, and is 80 percent white today, according to the US Census Bureau. Among the 6,000 students in public schools, 400 are Hispanic or Latino; 200 are Black.
But as the flood of response to Remy’s video made clear, many students of color have felt isolated and alone there — and, sometimes, targeted for punishment. To Elizabeth Kamya, a 2015 graduate of Arlington High School who is Black, the video felt like delayed validation of her own troubling experience.
Kamya grew up in Arlington, the daughter of involved, well-educated parents. Her first experience with bias came in elementary school, when, she says, her teacher insisted she was a less skilled reader than her classmates and discouraged her from choosing more challenging books.
“She kept giving me little kid books, when I was reading big chapter books at home, and I found it very hurtful,” said the 23-year-old, who works as a union organizer in California.
As she grew older, she began to see more clearly the assumptions teachers made about her abilities, and her character. In eighth grade, Kamya said, a teacher refused to believe that she had accidentally deleted a finished essay the night before it was due, assuming instead that she had failed to write it. A high school teacher chastised her for not taking notes — even as she was taking notes, she says — then kicked her out of class when she protested. Her dean assumed she got bad grades. (She didn’t.)
“I was shocked to be treated so differently,” she said. “The disparities were always very clear — everyone in detention was Black and brown — and we knew it wasn’t right.”
The concerning discipline patterns Kamya saw in high school also caught Remy’s attention a year or two later. Compiling data for a federally mandated report on discipline in late 2016 and early 2017 — and then looking beyond the report requirements, to include other types of discipline, like detention — he says he found that Black, Hispanic, and disabled students made up 13 percent of Arlington High School’s enrollment, but received 80 percent of the punishment. He doesn’t have documents to corroborate his memory of the numbers, but says he vividly recalls his shock at the scale of the disparity.
Remy says he raised the issue with the superintendent in early 2017, in a scheduled meeting on another subject, and that she rebuffed his urgent appeal. “She resisted including things that weren’t required for the report,” Remy said in an interview. “The message I got was to keep it surface level.” He felt Bodie had discouraged him from digging deeper, to analyze numbers of detentions and other forms of discipline, like the classroom removal Kamya had experienced.
In an interview, Arlington’s superintendent said Remy clearly misunderstood her response. She cited years of public discussion about the disparities in discipline, dating back before Remy’s employment, and years of investment in better data systems and antibias training for teachers and administrators, a history she said shows “a multiyear, multifaceted, ongoing effort to address disproportionality.
“The video was shocking to me, and stinging, because it creates an impression of a system that hasn’t done anything,” she said. “I’ve racked my brain to try and understand how he possibly could have thought that.”
A revamped approach to discipline, including a new program in collaborative problem solving, has driven down total numbers of suspensions in recent years, Bodie said. But she acknowledged that variations in discipline rates have been harder to stamp out.
The work continues, Bodie said, not just to move the numbers, but to find ways of making Black and brown students feel more at home in school, “to know that they belong, and are appreciated for who they are.”
Kamya, the Arlington High School graduate, said she has worked to overcome feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that began with her time in Arlington schools.
“If you’re told that you’re … not good enough, and if you’re constantly treated differently, it affects how you see yourself,” she said. “I internalized it, and wished all the time that I wasn’t Black. … I didn’t want my color anymore.”
The uneven rates of discipline seen in Arlington mirror those in other affluent, mostly white suburbs. Data show minority students in neighboring Belmont, Lexington, and Concord are just as overrepresented in disciplinary actions — or even more so. (In Belmont, the discipline rate for Black students was 10 times higher than the rate for whites last year.) Statewide, data show Black students are three times more likely to be disciplined.
“It can be perceived as an urban problem, stemming from a lack of counselors and supports, but you see the same disparities in the suburbs,” said Leon Smith, director of the Boston-based nonprofit Citizens for Juvenile Justice. “In suburban schools, the resources are there — but the inclination toward punishment for students of color is too.”
For Remy, the numbers brought back painful memories of the discipline that once dogged him. As a Black eighth-grader in Boston Public Schools, he says, he was suspended from school for three days for ducking into an empty girls’ restroom to wash his hands while the boys’ restroom was closed.
Soon afterward, he says, he chose to leave Boston Latin School to enroll at another high school in the city, partly because there were more Black students there, and less microscopic scrutiny.
“I learned early on that in any situation, if something went wrong, eyes would be on me,” said Remy. “So you prepare yourself, and make adjustments, to make yourself seem less threatening.”
His meeting with the Arlington superintendent troubled him deeply. He says he decided the next day to leave his job, and resigned within a few weeks. Afraid that speaking out about the reason might hurt his work prospects, he took a position outside education, and kept his lingering discomfort to himself.
Until Floyd was killed, and the truth felt essential.
“I knew it was still happening,” he said. “I knew other students were still walking in my shoes.”
Remy’s video, and the renewed scrutiny it triggered, was one thread in a complex conversation about race, approached — at least for the moment — with new boldness. It went beyond discipline for students of color, to concerns about their social-emotional well-being and mental health, and their unequal academic achievement.
And in Arlington, as in any other place in America, the conversation happened against a backdrop of specific history: past disputes and controversies that left behind unresolved tensions and unanswered questions.
Three years ago, residents clashed over a proposal to eliminate an elementary school tradition known as “Colonial Day,” after complaints that dressing students in Colonial-era costumes disrespected the history of students of color. More furor followed a year later, in 2018, after an Arlington police lieutenant wrote several inflammatory columns for a statewide law enforcement newsletter, advocating police violence and railing against the Black Lives Matter movement.
The town’s decision not to fire the officer — and to instead require him to attend a restorative justice program — drew sharp criticism. Angry residents organized a new group, Arlington Fights Racism, in 2019, and began working to elect a more diverse, progressive town government.
This spring, after a longtime School Committee member wrote about racial disparities in a way that struck some parents as dismissive — he argued that the small variations in local graduation rates for Blacks and whites, and the town’s relatively small number of discipline cases, weaken claims of significant inequality — three mothers wrote a blunt response.
“As parents and caregivers of children of color,” they wrote, “it is not uncommon for us to pause and wonder whether it is a good idea to keep our children in [Arlington Public Schools].”
Allison-Cardoso, one of the letter’s authors, said she spent years asking teachers to push her three Black children harder, but rarely felt expectations were set high enough, or that her boys were fulfilling their potential. Eventually she concluded they would be better off elsewhere. Her eldest son left Arlington schools last year to attend a regional vocational school, and she expects her two younger boys to follow.
“I don’t think they’ve been educated in a way that matches the ideals of the town, or the way their white classmates are educated,” said Allison-Cardoso, herself a longtime teacher in another district.
Students, too, have felt new vigor flood their old frustrations.
Doralee Heurtelou, a 2020 graduate of Arlington High School, struggled to feel at home in classes where she was the lone Black student. For years she was afraid to raise her hand. Then, as a junior, she helped organize a Black Student Union at the high school. She says her activism empowered her, and allowed her to find her voice again.
In June, a week after graduating, she and other Black students organized a protest against systemic racism in Arlington schools. Heurtelou says the high school principal reached out to them with concerns about the event, describing it as an “ambush” and questioning if they, as graduates, could still act in the name of the Black Student Union.
Undeterred, they created a new group for Black alumni and held the protest as planned, drawing several hundred people to the steps outside town hall.
“This is not a personal attack or an ambush on Arlington Public Schools,” Heurtelou told the crowd, to loud cheers. “This is an attack on systemic racism.”
The students sent a list of 20 demands to school officials, beginning with “Learn the names of Black students and how to pronounce them” and ending with “Replace Arlington’s racially derogatory Native American mascot.” (The high school’s logo, which includes a kneeling figure known as the Menotomy Hunter, is under review.)
The high school principal, Matthew Janger, said he could not comment on the protest or demands. A new antiracism working group at the high school, created after Floyd’s death and made up of students and staff, is discussing the students’ demands.
“You hope that, in time, the students understand that we are listening, and we want things to improve,” said Bodie, the superintendent. “This is some of the most important work we can do, to change where we’ve been as a country.”
At the rally, hearing students speak, J. Mike Remy let himself imagine how the world might be reshaped by their forceful insistence.
“I’m still seeing myself in the numbers,” he said when it was his turn at the microphone. “But if any of this can be made into action, it just might look better for my kids.”
Tuesdays: June, 23, July 7 & 24, August 4, 7:00 pm
Moderated by Jillian Harvey, DEI Coordinator and Allentza Michel, DEI Community Consultant- Powerful Pathways, the panel discussion with town leadership will reflect upon the roots of systemic racism, its implications for Arlington and acknowledge the calls for action now. Topics will cover town racial equity initiatives and goals, school data and racial disparities, and policing policies. Panelists will include Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Police Chief Juliann Flaherty, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Roderick MacNeal Jr. Attendees will be able to submit questions beforehand and during the event. email@example.com
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Please feel free to submit beforehand any questions you would like have addressed during the session to firstname.lastname@example.org
Each session will be recorded and made available on the town website for those who missed them or wish to review.
Not sure what kinds of questions to ask? Need more information? Feel free to reach out to Arlington Fights Racism at email@example.com
This four-part series is meant to open up the dialogue to address challenges past and present the Town of Arlington has faced, acknowledge plans for moving forward in the journey to dismantle the systemic racism that is embedded into all of the Town’s institutions, and provide an opportunity for community voices and concerns to be heard and discussed. AFR has been advocating for the town to have these community conversations for over a year! Please attend to show the town that these issues are important to YOU too! https://www.arlingtonma.gov/Home/Components/News/News/10288/16?backlist=%2f
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:
Once again, the goals and purpose of Arlington Fights Racism (AFR), all of which is public on our website, are being misrepresented by those who feel threatened by our existence.
So once again, AFR asserts that we are no more and no less than what we have stated time and time again, a diverse group of residents, each with our own opinions and goals for the town, who have come together on this one thing: to address problems of systemic and institutionalized racism in Arlington, compounded by a lack of transparency in governance.
We do not demand a purity test of our members for anything beyond our stated goals. Our candidates and supporters include people who are incumbents and first timers, lifelong and new residents, renters and homeowners, low income and high, abled and disabled, young and old, parents and childless, married, single, straight, gay, cis, trans, of many faiths, of no faith, white and people of color.
If our greatest crime is having held up a light so that others can see — for which we have been called disruptive, divisive and rabble-rousing — then we’ll take it.
While our candidates and supporters may not agree on every policy or detail we consider relevant to our platform, or even outside of it, we believe in reconciling our differences. In finding common ground as we work collaboratively toward the advancement of equity and inclusion in Arlington.
We are not an exclusive club that only allows members who vote in lockstep with the majority; instead, we embrace a support network encompassing a diversity of backgrounds and lived experiences. We hope other candidates and elected officials can see the value of including diverse voices at the table, and people who may not always agree on every issue, because that is how a truly representative local democracy, and better solutions, are achieved.
Both the published comments of Arlington Lt. Rick Pedrini and the town’s response left many people feeling disturbed and dissatisfied. For that reason, AFR chose to put its energy into identifying and championing the policies and practices that will allow Arlington to act appropriately the next time these issues arise.
Members of AFR contributed to the writing of the Consensus Building Institute’s report about the town’s response to the Pedrini issues. We’ve hosted community listening sessions with the support of both town leaders and APD. We continue to look for ways we can work with APD and town leaders to repair the harm in our community that these writings, and the precedents set by the town, have caused.
But without clear policies to prevent a recurrence, the next such incident is only a matter of time. We invite you to join us in our efforts.
To learn more about our community group Arlington Fights Racism, please visit our website at www.arlingtonfightsracism.org.
Town elections have been rescheduled for Saturday, June 6th from 8:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M.
The Town will provide two ways to vote:
In-person voting (please note that there will be a reduction in polling locations). Check the Town’s website before heading to the polls.
Absentee/early voting is available for anyone who cannot or does not want to leave their homes to vote. All registered voters are eligible for absentee/early voting for this election.
Voting absentee/early-voting is easy, but it is a 2-step process. Please remember to allow yourself enough time. You must first formally request the ballot from the Town Clerk and then return it. Given the anticipated volume of absentee ballots being requested, the town is encouraging people who plan to vote absentee to send in their requests immediately.
If you know anyone who has not yet registered to vote, voter registration has been extended to May 27, 2020, and can be found online.
ABSENTEE VOTING INSTRUCTIONS:
Step 1: Request the absentee/early voting ballot – 2 options
For an absentee/or early-voting ballot: download this form. Return it by mail to: Elections, Town Clerk, Town Hall, Arlington, MA 02476, or take a photo of it with your phone and email the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also do the same with a hand-written and signed request. Or fax your form or request with signature to: 781-316-3079. You must include a real, handwritten signature, a typed signature is not valid.
In the next few weeks, the town will be mailing out a postcard to all registered voters that will serve as a request for an absentee ballot. You will simply need to complete the required information and drop it into the mailbox, postage will be prepaid.
Step 2: Return your ballot
Ballots will be mailed to voters who request them starting May 15th.
Currently, voters must mail the ballot back to the Town Clerk (not email or fax). A return envelope will be provided with each ballot. You can also hand deliver your ballot to the Clerk’s Office at Town Hall if, and only if, the Social Distancing emergency is over.
The town is working on ideas to place secure ballot boxes around town for voters to return their ballots. Stay tuned for more information here.
Your completed ballot has to be in the Clerk’s Office by the close of the polls (8 PM) on Election Day. A postmark for that day is insufficient.
Originally published in the Arlington Advocate, April 9,2020
In these extraordinary times, I am grateful to our Select Board and town manager for the work they are doing to keep Arlington informed and safe, and I appreciate their decision to delay our elections. As hard as it is to keep in mind right now, at some point the virus will start to ease and all the issues that were so important a month ago will come to the forefront again. Among them, our ongoing need for affordable housing; an increased commitment to transparency in all aspects of town government; the urgent need to create climate resiliency; and the necessity to make sure all our residents have a voice, and feel respected when they use it.
I believe the best candidate for Select Board to address these issues, with the interests of all Arlington residents in mind, is Michaiah Healy. She plans to focus on low- and moderate-income residents and further support the work of our Housing Corporation and Housing Authority. She plans to develop paths for residents to more-directly communicate with our town’s elected and appointed leaders, as well as expand town efforts to reach out to residents. And of course she will also direct those efforts at enhanced communication to relations between the APD and residents, with respect for all points of view as trust is rebuilt.
Michaiah comes from a family of teachers, veterans and police officers, from whom she learned the values of lifelong learning, and respect for different points of view. I’d love to see her bring these values to Arlington as a member of the Select Board, and hope you will join me in giving her your vote.
Submitted to the Arlington Advocate on April 21,2020
In 2019 a group of concerned Arlington community members came together to form Arlington Fights Racism (AFR) in response to local racist and hate-filled writings, sharing a vision of Arlington as a more inclusive and welcoming place. United, we work to challenge racism, inequity and bias in all forms; to promote transparency in our town government; and to foster a culture in our town and in our schools that identifies, includes and empowers underrepresented and marginalized community members – thus, helping to make Arlington a safer, more just community for all. Through this work, we observed the roles that institutional racism and a lack of representation and transparency have played in our town. As a result, we focused our efforts on building a grassroots election movement.
With that goal, AFR both reached out to incumbent Town Meeting members running for re-election and encouraged new voices and faces to run for office. Many barriers may prevent people from running for election. It is expensive, time consuming and complicated. AFR encouraged new candidates to run by promising to support their campaigns. This group of candidates represent Arlington’s most diverse communities. Our election will significantly increase the representation of marginalized communities in Town government. Among us are naturalized immigrants, LGBTQ+ candidates, candidates of color, religious minorities, candidates with children of color and candidates hosting asylum seekers in their home.
AFR endorsed candidates for Town Meeting (TM) and town wide races share many values yet may differ on others. We are all individuals with our own experiences, perspectives and concerns. One issue we all agree on is the need to proactively work to uncover and dismantle prejudice, bigotry, racism and discrimination. AFR created an Inclusion Platform that articulates these goals and unites all endorsed candidates on this one issue. This Inclusion Platform pledges to pursue and support policies that increase the diversity of representation in town government, require implicit bias and cultural competency training for town employees and officials, develop a Communications policy, and reverse the harmful precedent set by the Town’s recent use of Restorative Justice for a police officer’s hate-filled writings. For the complete platform and more information, please visit our website at www.arlingtonfightsracsim.com or Facebook Arlington Fights Racism.
Please join us to create a town that is truly welcoming and inclusive for all Arlington’s residents. We respectfully ask for your vote in the upcoming Town elections. Thank you and stay safe.
I am writing to recommend Michaiah Healy for Arlington Select Board. Michaiah is a leader who listens; she has an ability to bring respectful, collaborative and productive resolutions to complex problems.
Healy is from a family of Army and Navy veterans, the daughter of a public school teacher and a police sergeant. She is the mother of three young children, two of them in Arlington Public Schools. Professionally, she has served as a pastor and a counselor.
Healy has built relationships with town leaders and Arlington Public School parents as cochair of Envision Arlington’s Diversity Task Group, and as a participant in the recent candidate interviews for the chief of police position. She has a substantial professional network in federal, state and neighboring government municipalities through her professional work and civic engagement.
As a woman of color, Healy’s election to the Select Board would be an important step in our town government’s development into a more representative system. If you’re curious to know more about her and what she stands for, visit healyforselectboard.com.
Please join me in voting for Michaiah Healy for Arlington Select Board on April 4.
We write in support of three candidates in the upcoming election for town offices.
Michaiah Healy for Select Board
These are times of change in Arllngton and around the world. Directions we take locally and decisions we make in the coming years will shape the town in decades ahead. We need forward-thinking, respectful leadership on the Select Board, and Michaiah Healy can provide those talents. She listens carefully, analyzes problems thoughtfully, and will help us build consensus that will serve our needs not only now but for years to come.
We urge you to support Michaiah Healy for Select Board.
Lynette Martyn for School Committee
Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens and community leaders. Lynette Martyn is a forward-thinking advocate for the kinds of programs and schools that will help today’s students become those leaders. Her leadership experience on the Diversity and Inclusion Group positions will enable her to make important contributions and provide guidance to programs that embrace the increasing multicultural diversity all around us and build on it in the years ahead.
Jo Anne Preston for Housing Commission
Jo Anne knows and cares about housing in Arlington. As prices soar and teardowns increase, where will longtime residents live, and more important, how will they live? Joanne understands publicly supported housing. She knows that buildings must be maintained, but she places equal emphasis on quality of life for citizens aging in place. She will help Arlington access programs for residents to help them cope with mobility challenges and increasing isolation. For the benefit of our seniors, please support Jo Anne Preston for Housing Commission.
I am writing to express my enthusiastic endorsement for Michaiah Healy for Select Board.
While I appreciate the decades-long service of incumbent Diane Mahon, I do believe it is time to elect fresh faces — and perspectives — to our board in order to reflect Arlington’s changing demographics and its evolving needs as a municipality.
It is time to have more elected officials who are widely available and open to listening to Arlington’s residents. Healy has demonstrated this quality in her work with the Diversity Taskforce Group and in her willingness to meet with and promote residents’ efforts towards increasing inclusivity in Arlington. Healy’s reputation as someone who is open to meeting with people one-on-one and learning about them and their needs and concerns is well-known to those who work on diversity issues in Arlington.
As the chair of Arlington’s Diversity Taskforce Group, Healy has brought an even-tempered mindfulness to her role. She has been proactive in recruiting new members and in ensuring the task force functions as a group that concretely advocates for more equitable policies here in Arlington. Under her tenure, the task force has promoted solid efforts to make Arlington a more inclusive town for its residents. In addition to this work, Healy brings to the table her experience as a mother of young children, as a pastor, and as a disability advocate with the Disability Policy Consortium.
Accessibility is a critical quality for any elected representative in earning my vote. If Michaiah Healy is elected, I have no doubt that Arlington will benefit greatly from this and other qualities she has already demonstrated in her endeavors to further the quality of life for all Arlington residents.
I am writing to voice my support of candidate Lynette Martyn, who is running for School Committee in Arlington this spring.
As a mother of two young children in our town’s public school system, Lynette is someone with an insider’s perspective of how the schools are functioning for our children. Additionally, Lynette has years of experience calling attention to and efficiently addressing equity issues on the structural level in Arlington, most notably including in our public school system. Lynette was the main founder of the Diversity and Inclusion Groups (DIGs) — groups of parents and caretakers concerned with such issues occurring in all of our respective elementary and middle schools. She is also serving her fourth year on the superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee.
Considering the high racial disparity rates in suspensions at our schools, and our low ranking in special education, it is apparent that Arlington is currently failing many of its underprivileged students. The centerpiece of Lynette Martyn’s platform is to ensure our public school system works for and benefits all of our students — including students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities, special education students, and students from low-income families. It is only when we bring all of these students into our full consideration, and create an atmosphere where they not only succeed but can thrive — that our schools fulfill their mission and purpose. But in order to achieve this, we will need a strong advocate who prioritizes equity and compassion on the committee. Lynette is one such advocate. I hope others who are concerned about these issues agree and will vote for her come election day.
When you go to the polls on Saturday, April 4, for our local Arlington town elections, I ask that you support three wonderful candidates for town government.
First, please vote for Michaíah Healy for Select Board. Her leadership, whether in Arlington’s Diversity Task Group as its sole chair for several years or in her current role as a support counselor with the Disability Policy Consortium, has proven she is a capable, compassionate and thoughtful leader with a demonstrated commitment to considering the needs of the community with an attentive ear. This is something we need more of in our local government and I feel her election will signify a turning point toward diversifying town leadership and making for an overall more inclusive town.
Next, I’d ask that you vote for Lynette Martyn for Arlington School Committee. The founding member of the Diversity and Inclusion Groups at the public schools and a mother of two children attending Brackett, Lynette’s passionate drive for community improvement has yielded tangible accomplishments. In particular, she has directly participated in efforts that have advanced warrant articles that became bylaws, such as our Trust Act resolution to make Arlington safer for our undocumented residents and visitors, and a waiver to our overnight street parking ban for low income and disabled residents who lack viable off-street parking options. Her knowledge and resourcefulness will make her an exceptional addition to the Arlington School Committee.
Finally, I am writing to endorse Jo Anne Preston for the board of directors of the Arlington Housing Authority. Preston is an active and vocal member of our community, especially when it comes to the need for more affordable and accessible housing. She is an experienced Town Meeting member, with an impressive professional background that in particular highlights a dedication to working with our senior population. When I listened to Preston at a recent virtual town hall, I was inspired by her ideas to apply for more grant funding in order to implement improvements in existing AHA properties and potentially even add new affordable housing opportunities to the AHA portfolio.
The combined expertise, experience, determination and community focus of these three outstanding candidates will help shape Arlington policy in a positive and more just direction for years to come.
I appreciate your vote for each of them in Town Election on Saturday, April 4.
— Jordan Weinstein, Lennon Road; Town Meeting member, Precinct 21; Arlington Democratic Town Committee member
While there are important, high-visibility elections, Select Board and School Committee, coming up on April 4, there is another election that is also important. That is a contested election for a seat on the Board of the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA).
This seat is for a five-year term, so the results of this year’s election can have a significant long-term impact.
The Arlington Housing Authority operates several housing-assistance programs which provide direct housing in government-owned developments or subsidized housing in privately-owned dwellings for persons of low or very low income.
Jo Anne Preston is one of the candidates running to serve on the AHA board. Jo Anne has extensive experience in serving this low-income and/or senior community.
• Town Meeting member for Precinct 9. Three (of the five) of the AHA’s properties are located here.
• Advanced degree in social science and gerontology.
• Worked with Medicaid Aid to the Aged.
• Former research director for the Institute for Aging Study, “Aging and Generational Relations.”
• Strong desire to improve lives of residents and increase access to affordable housing options.
In addition, I understand (as of the writing of this letter) that the incumbent does not intend to participate in the League of Women Voters Candidate Night debate. If correct, this will limit a full discussion of the issues being faced by the AHA and its clients.
Therefore, I respectfully urge that you consider voting for Jo Anne for this important community position. Thank you.
Greetings. I write to encourage you to vote for the candidates endorsed by the Arlington Fights Racism slate in the town election. Please see https://www.arlingtonfightsracism.com/elections: Michaiah Heally for Select Board; Jo Anne Preston for Housing Committee; and Lynette Martyn for School Committee. Each of these candidates has demonstrated commitment to working for all residents of Arlington. Their dedication helps ensure our collective voices are heard in decision-making, whether our family has lived here for generations or has recently joined our community. They seek to build upon the best of Arlington’s traditions, as we collectively affirm our national motto, “out of many, one.”
Michaiah Healy, https://www.healyforselectboard.com, Select Board candidate: is co-chair of Arlington’s Envision 2020 Diversity Task Group, and is dedicated to sustaining Arlington as a welcoming place for all. Michaiah engages in problem solving collaboratively and as a facilitator, inviting contrasting perspectives and points of view, and seeking shared understanding and agreement. As ready to listen as to lead, a vote for Michaiah is a vote shared growth and prosperity for all residents.
Jo Anne Preston, Housing Committee candidate: has advocated and worked for fair and affordable housing for all ages in Arlington for more than two decades. She is a hard worker committed to working on behalf of our seniors and lower income residents to ensure comfortable housing is available to all. She will attend to protecting Arlington’s environment in the midst of growth and redevelopment initiatives. Jo Anne diligently collects information to inform her decision-making and listens to contrasting perspectives before proceeding.
Lynette Martyn, Electlynette.com, School Committee candidate: has put in many hours behind the scenes to encourage the voices of families of all backgrounds to participate in important school community discussions about budget, curriculum, teacher recruitment and development, as well as on school and district policies that promote more effective K-12 education for all children. Lynette’s concern for students, teachers, schools and families add a constructive voice to build on past successes in Arlington Public Schools and ensure we become more effective in “raising the floor” of academic success for those students and families whom we collectively must serve better in our public schools. I encourage folks to support Lynette’s candidacy.
These three candidates from the Arlington Fights Racism initiative are committed to collaborative and inclusive decision-making to benefit all town residents. As we move through this 21st century, we need stewards of town resources who work to ensure multigenerational and new members of our community are heard and respected. We need consistent professional development for town employees and information for families that promotes cultural competency, transparency, and gives everyone the best chance to succeed. Whether your key concerns are town operations, housing, and/or increasing the effectiveness of our schools for all children, please join in supporting Michaiah, Jo Anne and Lynette for the future growth of Arlington.
Please vote for Michaiah Healy for Select Board in the upcoming 2020 town election. As a brown woman who would like to see more compassionate, diverse and strong town leadership, I am glad to be backing the town’s historic first woman of color running for this position.
I have gotten to know Michaiah as a co-chair for the Arlington Diversity Task Group (DTG) as a thoughtful, inclusive, kind consensus builder and leader with a desire to make Arlington a place that is great for everyone! We need the skill sets she brings to the table of having worked with diverse communities such as her leadership with the Diversity Task Group and Envision Arlington, building communities as a pastor and organizing and supporting communities with her work as a disability advocate. She is humble, detail oriented and is a doer who has the experience and willingness to be open to all viewpoints and help guide the conversation to action.
Even her values spell out Representation, Equity, Sustainability, Public Safety, Environment, Civility, Thoughtful Housing — bringing out some of the issues she hopes to address if elected as part of the Select Board.
The town of Arlington has many challenges in the near future, and we need Michaiah to bring that compassionate and experienced voice that will be open to listening to all viewpoints and helping to move the conversion with her consensus building skills.
Vote Michaiah Healy for Select Board in the upcoming Town Elections this year!
— Mona Mandal, Water Street; Town Meeting member, Precinct 9
This is an extraordinarily challenging time in our nation’s history. Our climate and nature itself are seriously threatened — and at present our national government is not only failing to address this crisis, but is cancelling many of the positive changes made in recent years. In addition, we are all struggling to adjust to a frightening global pandemic, which carries with it a financial crisis. And, as I expect is true everywhere, Arlington has its own problems and challenges.
But there are positives too; nationwide an astonishing number of people are standing up and speaking out — individuals who want to “be part of the solution.” Locally a group, Arlington Fights Racism, has come together to address both local and broader issues. AFR is offering a slate of candidates for the many open seats to be decided by the April 4 election. There are candidates for the Select Board (Michaiah Healy) the School Committee (Lynette Martyn) and Housing Authority (Jo Anne Preston) as well as candidates for open Town Meeting slots. Many of the TM candidates have set up meetings for their precinct members. Detailed info about all of these candidates and the precinct meetings can be found on the web at www.arlingtonfightsracism.com/elections. Check it out! Vote!
It is my pleasure to write here in support of Jo Anne Preston’s candidacy for the board of directors of the Arlington Housing Authority.
Affordable housing has become a leading issue of concern on the local as well as the state level. In the Boston metro area, an average person would have to make $34 per hour working full-time just to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, according the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Yet the average hourly salary in our Massachusetts is $15.80. The scarcity of affordable housing in our town means that the Arlington Housing Authority, one of the two main suppliers of affordable housing in Arlington (besides the Housing Corp of Arlington), is a critical agency in satiating overwhelming demand. In addition to the five properties under its domain, AHA also runs the Section 8 housing choice voucher program that serves hundreds (if not thousands) of people across the state.
Part of ensuring that affordable housing is accessible and equitable is having dedicated and compassionate Board members who care about present and prospective tenants and voucher holders of the AHA. In that vein, Preston is the perfect candidate. A former tenants rights activist, Preston is also a retired social worker with Medical Aid to the Aged, a volunteer with the Council on Again, and has a Ph.D. focusing in gerontology — all invaluable experiences considering that a high proportion of AHA tenants are seniors. She is an active Town Meeting member, which means she also understands the basics of local governance.
AHA board members have a recent reputation for being relatively non-responsive to tenants and generally hard to reach. Preston has vowed to be communicative and available to tenants and local voucher holders. She has also pledged to be proactive in seeking ways to expand and maximize affordable housing options through the AHA here in our town. Finally, Preston’s addition to the AHA will add some much-needed gender diversity to a board currently comprised entirely of men.
I am writing to support the slate that Arlington Fights Racism has put forth for the next town election. This includes, Michaiah Healy, Lynette Martyn, Jo Anne Preston and myself.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know several of the candidates and am extremely impressed with their ability to communicate effectively across groups and differences, and creatively problem solve.
Michaiah Healy, for Select Board, is passionate about making Arlington a welcoming place for everyone. I have talked to her many times over the past six months and also seen her work through the town’s Diversity Task Group. I have seen the time and dedication Michaiah puts into doing whatever work is necessary, seeking diverse view points, and her ability to share creative thinking in finding solutions that work for everyone. She would be a refreshing new voice on the board.
Lynette Martyn, for School Committee, would also be another great addition. I appreciate her tireless working for all folks in town and her ability to be honest, listen and not shy away from truth telling and in supporting the idea that Arlington schools should work for all students. Lynette also supports the on-going work around cultural competency in education. Lynette will add a positive, passionate voice to the issues facing Arlington in education today.
Jo Ann Preston is a tireless advocate for equity within our town housing and concerned about gentrification and its effect on residents. As a long time renter I so appreciate her knowledge, advocacy and hard work that would go into her being an informed member of the Housing Authority.
Lastly, as a member of Precinct 3 who is running for Town Meeting, it is the example of the work, energy and passion of these inspiring Arlington residents that made me want to be involved in town government. I appreciate the opportunity to actively listen to my fellow neighbors, be part of creative solutions that support all of our community and learn more about the issues facing us all.
I hope you will remember these names when you are voting on April 4. We need folks like Michaiah Healy, Lynette Martyn and Jo Anne Preston in town government.