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23 minutes reading time (4528 words)

13 letters backing Arlington Fights Racism and its slate

Finding common ground for a better Arlington

Robin Bergman submitted his letter on behalf of the Arlington Fights Racism Steering Committee.

Arlington Fights Racism logo

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.


This letter was published Friday, May 29, 2020.


Kevin Heaton of Mass. Ave. submitted this letter.

I'm writing to ask folks to vote for the candidates endorsed by Arlington Fights Racism in the town election on June 6, or by absentee ballot: Lynette Martyn for School Committee, Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority and Michaiah Healy for Select Board.

They will bring much-needed awareness of issues affecting low-income residents and people of color.

Martyn will work to improve the disparity gap in MCAS scores, graduation rates and disciplinary measures among students of color and students with disabilities.

As a Select Board member, Healy will work to repeal the ban on rent control, support accessible, integrated and affordable housing, as well as alternative housing vouchers for people with disabilities.

As a Housing Authority member, Preston will advocate for affordable-housing grant money and to make the application process more accessible to folks who are elderly, have disabilities or who don't speak English.

Please cast your ballot for these candidates to make Arlington a better, more inclusive place for everyone.


This letter was published Saturday, May 23, 2020.


Elizabeth Dray, a candidate for Town Meeting in Precinct 8, submitted the following letter to the editor:

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 grass-roots election movement.

With that goal, AFR both reached out to incumbent Town Meeting members running for reelection 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 represents 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 and townwide 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 this link in 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.


This letter was published Tuesday, April 21. 


Nancy Stevenson and Neil Clark, 40-year Arlington residents wrote this letter:

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 Arlington 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 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.

Lynette Martyn for School Committee: Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens and community leaders. 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 Authority: Jo Anne knows and cares about housing in Arlington. As prices soar and tear-downs 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 Preston for Housing Authority.


This letter was published Friday, March 20.


Ben Moynihan of 7 Plymouth St. submitted this letter:

Greetings. I write to encourage you to vote for the candidates endorsed by the Arlington Fights Racism slate in the town election. See www.arlingtonfightsracism.com/

Michaiah Healy for Select Board, Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority 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.”

Healy is cochair 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.

Preston 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.

Martyn 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.


This letter was published Monday, March 16.


Paula Jordan of 40 Windsor St., a Precinct 3 Town Meeting candidate, submitted this letter:

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.

Select Board candidate Michaiah Healy is passionate about making Arlington a welcoming place for everyone. I have talked to her many times over the past 6 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.

School Committee candidate Lynette Martyn 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 ongoing 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 longtime renter I so appreciate her knowledge, advocacy and hard work that would go into her being an informed member of the Housing Authority.

Last, 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.


This letter was published Monday, March 16.


Melanie Brown of 14 Skyline Drive submitted this letter:

I am writing to pledge my support for several of the stellar candidates running for office in the upcoming Town elections on April 4th. Michaiah Healy, who is running for one of the two open Select Board seats, is a compassionate person with a willingness to listen to anyone who wants to approach her or discuss an issue or concern. She will always make sure to carve out time to meet with you. As one of the cochairs of our town's Diversity Taskforce Group (DTG), she has extensive experience working on key issues specific to our town in advancing not only diversity, but equity and inclusion. As a member of the Select Board, I think she will deliberate pressing policy issues with fairness and empathy.

Likewise, I am also enthusiastic about Lynette Martyn's candidacy for the School Committee. Martyn is one of the hardest workers I know in Arlington. She is a determined advocate for those most marginalized in our town--including in our school system. She cares deeply for our students and wants them all to not just succeed, but thrive. I know that if elected, she will not only make sure she gets the job done, but that it is done right, and that the needs of underprivileged students and families most often overlooked by our institutions are well-represented.

Finally, I am also impressed with Jo Anne Preston, who is running for the Board of the Arlington Housing Authority. Preston is a former social worker and tenants rights activist, as well as a current Town Meeting Member, and a volunteer with the Council on Aging. She seems to be a resourceful candidate who is obviously dedicated to boosting representation for those who reside in our Town's affordable housing. I heard her speak recently at a candidate gathering and it was evident she was already laser-focused on improving the lives of AHA tenants and brainstorming concrete plans to achieve her goals.

The candidacies of Michaiah Healy, Lynette Martyn and Jo Anne Preston for Select Board, School Committee and AHA Board respectively, have also motivated me to run for Town Meeting in Precinct 19. When candidates can not only convince you to vote for them, but inspire you to run for offices as well, that is a sure sign of the strength of their campaigns.


This letter was published Monday, March 16.


Kathleen Lentz of Newport Street wrote this letter:

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 canceling 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 Town Meeting 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!


This letter was published Friday, March 13.


 Sarah Glover of 139 Franklin St. submitted this letter:

I am writing to invite you to join me in my enthusiastic support for Michaiah Healy running for Select Board, Lynette Martyn for School Committee and Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority board.

Each candidate brings skill, dedication, integrity and innovation to her respective role. Collectively, they infuse necessary new blood and fresh ideas for our town, which is evolving both because of changing demographics and a changing world. We cannot hearken back to the past or allow any of our citizens to be marginalized. It will leave Arlington a less desirable place to live for all of us.

Healy is currently chair of our town's Diversity Task Force, demonstrating leadership, commitment and grace. Though a busy mother of three, she dedicates herself to improving the quality of life in Arlington for all of us. She is exactly the kind of leader to bring depth, perspective and fresh ideas to our Select board.

Martyn is a parent of two Arlington public school children, and a tireless advocate of support for all kids. She particularly has her eye on narrowing achievement gaps between our low-income and non-low-income children. We have an academic divide in Arlington that is really unconscionable. Martyn will rally us to address that with tenacity and compassion.

Preston is a current Town Meeting member and former professor who has a deep understanding of the housing issues facing our town. As a member of the Arlington Housing Authority board, she would be strong, citizen-centered voice for the residents in AHA housing, many of whose voices are often not often sought out even though the decisions of the housing board impact them so directly.

Importantly, Arlington Fights Racism supports these three candidates. AFR is a group of neighbors dedicated to improving the quality of life in Arlington for all of us. Please join me in supporting Michaiah Healy (Select Board), Lynette Martyn (School Committee), and Jo Anne Preston (Housing Authority Board) in these roles where they will help bring about needed change.


This letter was published Thursday, March 12.


Michael Ruderman, 9 Alton St., a candidate for reelection to Town Meeting in Precinct 9, submitted this letter:

“You know you can’t win.”

You didn’t grow up here. Your name doesn’t sound like ours. You didn’t go to the right schools. Your kids don't look like you. The “right” people don’t know you. You’re not like the “right” people. You’re not like us.

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

You know who makes the rules. You know who runs things. They’re not giving that up. They’re not letting you in.

“Why are you trying to change things?”

We, the members and candidates representing Arlington Fights Racism (AFR), believe in a fairer, more inclusive, more respectful Arlington, the town we love. We, who are running for townwide offices and Town Meeting seats, seek a town government that is racially diverse, gender diverse, age diverse.

Longtime participants and first-time activists, we will be introducing ourselves and asking for your votes. A knock at the door, a conversation over coffee, we have a message to share:

We are Arlington. We are the "by the people." We want your voices with ours in the making of a better Arlington.

Please see our website, arlingtonfightsracism.com, for details of our support for townwide candidates (Michaiah Healy, Select Board; Lynette Martyn, School Committee; Jo Anne Preston, Housing Authority) and Town Meeting members.


This letter was published Wednesday, March 11.


Shawn Healy of Howard Street submitted this letter:

Arlington elections on April 4 are fast approaching. Each time I vote in our local elections, I am reminded of how our form of town government allows for greater resident involvement than other places I have lived – especially Town Meeting members who get to represent their precincts in voting for the articles that are adopted each year.

In several elections over the years, I have noticed that there were fewer candidates than open seats for Town Meeting in my precinct. This stood out to me as either being due to a lack of people having the interest in serving in town government or there being a lack of recruitment for new meeting members. This year, I see that most precincts have competitive races, not to mention competitive races for all the major offices in town. This greatly encourages me.I see competitive elections as a sign of more people wanting to get involved in the governing work of our town and to represent the diverse viewpoints of our residents. Some candidates are running in order to continue the work that they have been doing; others are running to shift priorities and give voice to underrepresented viewpoints, and still others are running to say, “I want to get involved too.”

I see competitive elections as a healthy part of our democracy, especially when candidates run on the issues that are important to them. When I vote on April 4, I will be voting FOR candidates that stand out to me. I will not be voting AGAINST anyone else running in those races. And for that reason, I plan to vote for Michaiah Healy (healyforselectboard.com) for Select Board (she’s amazing, and, yes, I’m biased – I'm her husband -- but it’s still the truth), Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority, and Lynette Martyn (Electlynette.com) for School Committee.So, this election day (April 4, if I haven’t said that enough), I encourage everyone to get to know the candidates, know what they stand for, what their priorities are, and why they want your vote. The more you get to know the candidates, the more likely you are to vote FOR someone, and not against their opponent.

If you get to know Healy, Preston and Martyn, I think you’ll agree that they are motivated, passionate advocates for our town, our residents, our environment, and our future.See you on Saturday, April 4.


This letter was published Wednesday, March 11.


Louise B. Popkin of Cliff Street submitted this letter:

I write in support of three candidates in our upcoming town elections – all hard workers and creative problem solvers, who will help us think outside the box about the complex issues facing Arlington today.

In recent years, our town officials have often seemed to me to be stuck in outdated, paternalistic ways of thinking, ill-suited to the challenges presented by an increasingly diverse constituency, and out of touch with current thinking about the ways our thought and behavior patterns reflect biases to which we would not consciously ascribe. As an educator and translator for whom – even after a lifetime of studying and celebrating other cultures – unconscious bias remains an ongoing personal challenge, I think we need leaders who can embrace diversity, articulating and addressing the concerns of all our residents--including people of different races, ethnicities, income levels, genders, sexual preferences, ages, and (dis)abilities.

As chair of our Diversity Task Group, Michaiah Healy, a candidate for Select Board (www.healyforselectboard.com), is a highly regarded participant in town affairs. A natural leader, whose insight, compassion and wisdom have earned her the respect and affection of many, if elected she will bring to the board a consensus builder’s voice that has often been lacking, and an approach to governance that contemplates the needs of all.

Lynette Martyn, a candidate for the School Committee, is an accomplished leader and innovator in matters concerning our schools (www.electlynette.com). A tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion with a 21st-century perspective on public education, if elected she will work passionately and honestly to ensure that all our children receive the highest quality, most culturally proficient education possible.

Jo Anne Preston, a Town Meeting member and former professor whose research and teaching skills have greatly enhanced our understanding of the complex housing decisions facing the town, is running for an Arlington Housing Authority Board seat (website under construction). If elected, she will be a strong, citizen-centered voice for the residents in AHA housing, reaching out to those most affected by board decisions and articulating the concerns of neighbors whose needs are often overlooked. All these candidates will provide strong leadership, engaging us in new ways; bringing to the table the concerns of voices now seldom heard; and enriching the civic life of Arlington. All three deserve your vote.


This letter was published Wednesday, March 11.


Wynelle Evans of Orchard Place submitted this letter:

I'm writing to ask Arlington residents to please support the slate of candidates endorsed by Arlington Fights Racism in the upcoming election. Please see www.arlingtonfightsracism.com/elections/ for the list of candidates. This is a group of creative, committed people, ready to bring fresh approaches to some of the complex issues facing our town.

These issues include how to keep Arlington welcoming to all, by encouraging diversity, protecting our most vulnerable residents, and creating affordable-housing options for newcomers and downsizers. We also need to strengthen our climate resiliency; encourage transparency in our town government; and make sure that residents’ voices are heard and respected.This slate of candidates will listen and respond to those voices, and work collaboratively at all levels in town.

Michaiah Healy, candidate for Select Board, has chaired the Diversity Task Force with sensitivity and shown strong leadership when bringing concerns to town leaders. She will bring input to the board that is inclusive and citizen-focused.

Jo Anne Preston, candidate for Housing Authority, will bring deep knowledge of the housing issues facing the town, through her outreach to those most impacted by housing decisions, and too often ignored.

Lynette Martyn, candidate for School Committee, has a strong track record of leadership on issues related to our schools, and is a coalition builder and creative problem-solver, with a focus on inclusion in our schools.

The Town Meeting member candidates will bring new perspectives to their roles and prioritize the concerns of residents.This slate of candidates is committed to being the voice of change and inclusion. Please give them your vote on April 4.


This letter was published Wednesday, March 11.

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