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Grass-roots group backs dozens in bid to diversify town government
The following news release, which includes opinion, is from Arlington Fights Racism. Contact the group at info at arlingtonfightsracism.com.
UPDATED, March 1: Until the April 4 town election, the organization Arlington Fights Racism (AFR) will support dozens of local candidates on a reform slate that seeks to raise awareness about racial justice and encourage diversity. The AFR slate includes more than three dozen candidates for Town Meeting, School Committee and the Arlington Housing Authority.
In addition, AFR is endorsing Michaiah Healy for Select Board, Lynette Martyn for School Committee and Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority. Voters will elect town officials, including two for Select Board, three for School Committee and one for Housing Authority, in the April 4 election.
Arlington is positioned to see the first person of color elected to office in the town’s history.
"This is a true grass-roots movement," said Lynette Martyn, candidate for School Committee, in a Feb. 29 news release. "We are supporting highly qualified candidates and are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work."
AFR has released a detailed platform that includes increasing the diversity of representation in town government, addressing institutional racism, requiring implicit bias training for town employees and elected officials and reversing the harmful precedent set by the town's use of restorative justice in response to a police officer's racist and prejudiced writings.
"The town has struggled with racial justice issues over the past few years," said Martyn. "We are turning the page on those unfortunate incidents, and fighting for a fairer, more diverse government for the Town we love."
Town Meeting candidate Melanie Brown added: "Arlington comprises 20 percent people of color across all groups, and yet Town Meeting maintains only 1 percent. We see similar disparities across every level of town government, from leadership to administration, Arlington Police Department to Arlington Public Schools, the people of color in this town are consistently underrepresented. The AFR slate spans 16 out of 21 precincts, with 25 percent of candidates identifying as people of color. It may seem a small step, but it's headed in the right direction."
About Arlington Fights Racism: In 2019, a grass-roots community of concerned Arlington residents came together to form Arlington Fights Racism in reaction to our town government’s mismanaged and insufficient response to the racist and hate-filled writings of an Arlington police lieutenant, and to challenge the dangerous precedent set by the inappropriate use of restorative justice as discipline with a large affected community.
Through our work, we observed the role that institutional racism and a lack of representation and transparency have played in our town. As a result, we focused our work on building a grass-roots election movement. Our goals are to increase the diversity of representation on all levels of town government and to challenge institutional racism, inequity and bias to make Arlington truly welcoming and inclusive for all.
For more information, visit www.arlingtonfightsracism.com/elections
This news announcement including opinion was published Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, and updated March 1.
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