READING – With a week to go before her public hearing before the Board of Registrars, Vanessa Alvarado took to social media Monday to state her case.
Alvarado is the subject of a recall election scheduled for Sept. 1. Before that the Select Board member will get the opportunity to challenge more than 900 of the signatures on the recall petition submitted by former board member John Arena in February. That process starts Monday and if she and her attorney Dennis Newman are successful and enough signatures are invalidated, the Sept. 1 vote will be unnecessary.
But with all this going on, Alvarado has been relatively quiet. That changed Monday with her video posted on againsttherecall.com. She started by explaining her silence on the web page.
“There have been questions as to why I have remained largely silent about the recall, and the reason is simple. It was on the advice of legal counsel. It has been incredibly difficult not to defend myself against personal attacks, baseless assertions, and the attempt to nullify the 2018 Select Board election.”
The almost five-minute long video started with a statement about the issues facing the country today, including Covid-19, racial unrest, unemployment and even the challenge of educating her children from home.
“While all this has been going on, on the larger stage I am facing a battle here at home. The man that I beat for a seat on the Select Board two years ago, John Arena, has organized a recall campaign against me. Something that has never been done in the history of Reading. With everything else going on, it seems petty and reckless. To ask all of us as taxpayers to pay for a special election is unnecessary and wasteful.”
Arena and others point to the delay in hiring Police Chief David Clark and that it goes against the rules set forth in the town charter. Alvarado disagrees.
“His accusation is that I delayed the hiring of our new police chief. There simply was no delay,” said Alvarado. “The town charter states that the Town Manager is to recommend a candidate for police chief and that the Select Board is to ratify that decision. I was honored to a part of the Town Manager’s extensive hiring process. The Town Manager put forward his candidate for police chief on Jan. 31. Within a couple of weeks, the board had discussed it and on Feb. 19 the board had voted unanimously to ratify David Clark as our new chief.
“As I went into that hiring process I recognized the significance of it for our community. For years we had watched the Black Lives Matter movement draw attention to negligent and abusive leaders. In the last couple of weeks as I have watched the news there has been two types of images that have really stuck with me. One is of officers, beating, macing, shooting, and arresting protesters. The other is of officers standing, marching, and kneeling with protesters. How cities and towns got to one of those two outcomes is based on the decisions and actions of their local leaders. As local leaders we have a choice. We can rubberstamp decisions. We can look the other way. Or we can be actively involved for the betterment of our community.
“Without a doubt, hiring a police chief is the most important decision local leaders must make. And when it came time for Reading to have a new police chief, I didn’t want to be a rubber stamp. I believe that every applicant for the role, every person within our public safety, and every resident within our community deserves Select Board members that take that responsibility, that duty, seriously.”
Alvarado had nothing but praise for Chief Clark.
“I am proud of our Police Chief, David Clark. I am proud of the strong statement he made condemning the actions of the Minneapolis police department. The Town of Reading is not immune from racial bias or other issues. It’s something I’m trying to do better educating myself on. And I believe David Clark is a partner for our community in those discussions. David Clark was the right choice for Reading and how we got to that decision is just as important as the decision.”
She ended the video by asking for the support of voters.
“This recall has shifted the focus from what is right for Reading to who is right for Reading. And who is welcomed. Which is why your vote matters. There will be a special election to determine if I am recalled from my seat on the Select Board.
“I stand by the decisions I have made for this community I call home. This town, where I am raising my children. This town, where I’ve dedicated the last six years as a volunteer in local government. With your support I would be honored to continue that service. I’d like to ask you to please mark your calendar for Sept. 1 and join me in voting as neighbors united against the recall.”