Mary Fusoni of Arlington submitted this letter.
We moved to Arlington from Somerville almost 33 years ago in part to put some distance between ourselves and the contentious politics that dominated that city throughout the 1970s and ’80s. We’d been deeply involved in arguments worth having, about tenants’ rights, redevelopment, the treatment of troubled kids in the schools, corrupt elected officials and more. In contrast, Arlington was a sleepy little burg -- just what we needed after an exhausting 15 years. We raised our daughters and worked on various issues, but except for trying to cast informed votes in every election mostly steered clear of town politics.
That changed when Lt. Rick Pedrini’s disgusting writings in a statewide police magazine came to light 18 months ago, coinciding in time with our daughter’s marriage to an African American man. We would have been outraged by those writings under any circumstances, but now there was more: fear for our beloved son-in-law’s safety driving the streets of our town while our police department harbored a man who held such repugnant views.
This situation, still unresolved, drove me to get involved in trying to understand what had happened and what should be done. I attended Select Board meetings where I gave testimony, once from my own heart and once reading the words of a citizen of color who was afraid to speak their own truth publicly. I then wrote a deeply felt letter to some members of the Select Board with a simple request: If you believe the writings are racist, as you’ve said, please explain why to the town, because we need your leadership.
Only Joe Curro wrote me back. I appreciated his reply and the ensuing dialogue, but was disheartened that no others responded. Next, I signed on to a letter to town officials requesting they take specific steps -- reasonable ones, I believe -- with regard to the situation. I wrote another heartfelt letter to my Town Meeting members asking them to consider co-signing, and was again disheartened at the response: one thoughtful reply (thank you, Eric Helmuth), one dismissive reply and the rest was silence.
So, when those who’d been organizing around the Pedrini issue created Arlington Fights Racism, it made sense to me. While many good Arlington people have done many good things over the years in regards to human rights and racism, there is so much more to be done. As our town is, thankfully, becoming more diverse, we need more elected officials who place action against racism among their highest priorities.
This is why for Select Board I’m voting for Michaiah Healy, who has employed her many skills as cochair of the Diversity Task Group and accepted the endorsement of Arlington Fights Racism while running her campaign independently. I also like Len Diggins, but in my conversation with Len, it seemed clear that confronting racism is not his personal priority. I respect that and I respect his work on other town issues, but my enthusiasm is with Michaiah, in hopes that she will be the first woman of color on our Select Board.
For School Committee, I’m voting for the woman who spearheaded the creation of Diversity and Inclusion Groups in Arlington’s schools. Lynette Martyn is truly committed to this work and in her campaign she’s brought forth many voices previously unheard, speaking about their lived experiences as people of color, as well as parents of students with special needs.
She did the hard work of organizing school by school, and now when the need to address systemic racism in our society is starkly front and center, Arlington has that infrastructure in place. Lynette’s campaign has become a lightning rod this spring; the fury with which she’s been attacked astonishes me, and seems to be of a piece with the times we live in.
Racism lives in every community, but it is the rare community that is willing to admit it. As others have noted in letters here, many citizens have worked for years to raise awareness, respond to human rights violations, and more. Does Arlington now have the courage to place on the School Committee a committed antiracism activist? I hope so, because in these volatile times we cannot rest on past accomplishments; we must move forward with a leader as dedicated and visionary as I believe Lynette to be.
On early evenings since May 29, Mass. Ave. was lined with hundreds of people demonstrating their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. This election gives Arlington a chance to establish this support as an ongoing effort to bring more equity and justice into our schools and town government and stand against racism. It’s an opportunity I hope we take.
This letter was published Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Louise B. Popkin of Cliff Street submitted this letter via the Martyn campaign.
Since the 2016 presidential elections, I have watched with horror as hate crimes have increased dramatically across the country, and in our own backyards. Our Jewish neighbors have suffered arson attacks, and our Muslim neighbors have seen our parks smeared with Islamophobic graffiti. Our police department welcomed an officer back from several months of paid leave, after he wrote vicious hate pieces advocating violence toward disabled people, Black Lives Matter activists and undocumented immigrants crossing our border.
2020 is a critical election year, both nationally with the upcoming presidential race: and here at home, because to help change things from the bottom up as well as from the top down, we must support local candidates who will make justice and equality a priority for Arlington. To that end, I support Michaiah Healy for Select Board and Lynette Martyn for School Committee.
I know Michaiah, as an active member, then chair, of Arlington's Diversity Task Group. Under her leadership, DTG’s membership increased dramatically, as we sponsored community events on implicit bias; offered upstander training (with True Story Theater); worked with library staff on “Arlington Reads” events; supported more equitable and humane parking policies; and broadened our horizons during monthly meetings through engagement with town leaders (e.g., Assistant Superintendent of Schools MacNeal and APD Chief Flaherty).
A smart, courageous woman of color who doesn’t shrink from controversy; a renter and mother of three young children; a pastor, disability counselor and community organizer with exceptional interpersonal skills, Healy is a collaborative leader who can reach across the table to foster dialogue and build consensus. Her strong ties to the community, professional training and life experience will bring a much needed fresh perspective to town government and help Arlington heal at a difficult time.
Lynette Martyn will bring a fresh perspective to the School Committee. Like Healy, she is an active member of DTG and a collaborative problem solver. She also worked tirelessly to help found the Diversity and Inclusion Groups (DIGs) in the public schools. Lynette has been a diligent and dedicated voice on the need to address the troubling disparity gaps in our public schools. And as a parent of children who attend Brackett, she has valuable insight into, and a vested interest in, the system's functioning.
Please join me in voting for Healy for Select Board and Martyn for School Committee.
This letter was published Monday, June 1, 2020.
Paul Parise of Hemlock Street submitted this letter via the Martyn campaign.
I am writing today to endorse Lynette Martyn for School Committee and Michaiah Healy for Select Board. Both would bring substantial leadership backgrounds and fresh, new perspectives to our town governance.
I have known Lynette for several years, and during that time she has demonstrated exceptional organizational ability, has a deep knowledge of the topics with which she has engaged and has an indefatigable energy with which to pursue and complete the task at hand. Lynette has all the tools to help the School Committee move forward and face the future educational challenges of Arlington.
While I have met Michaiah only recently this year, I am impressed with her background and ability to listen and learn about the issues facing our citizens. Michaiah has an abiding interest in open and transparent communication, equity for all of our community, including all viewpoints in discussions, and proceeding in a thoughtful and logical manner. While she demonstrates these traits in her everyday life activities involving counseling (at the Disability Policy Consortium in the Ombudsman Program)
and in leading her church community (Reservoir Church in Cambridge), I believe these same attributes and values will be most useful in resolving the issues facing our Select Board and the town.
Therefore, I respectfully urge that you consider voting for these two candidates, Lynette Martyn for School Committee and Michaiah Healy for Select Board. Thank you.
This letter was published Monday, June 1, 2020.