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Arlington Fights Racism endorses diversity candidates
The following opinion piece was submitted by Jordan Weinstein on behalf of the Arlington Fights Racism Steering Committee.
As part of an ongoing campaign to diversify town government, Arlington Fights Racism (AFR) has announced its support of over 25 candidates for local office, including candidates for Town Meeting, Housing Authority and Board of Assessor. The 2021 town election will be held Saturday, April 10.
“I’ve been forced to live in illegal condemned apartments and know firsthand the struggle in trying to be heard while fearing retaliation that might affect my family’s most fundamental need for housing. I am fueled by my own experience and the shared experiences of families I’ve met along my own housing journey. I want to work to eliminate the hardship and dehumanizing treatment of residents experiencing housing instability,” shared Kelda Fontenot, candidate for Arlington Housing Authority.
“Being an immigrant isn’t new to Arlington’s history or composition, yet our representative government doesn’t reflect that. I am proud to organize for greater inclusion,” said Board of Assessor candidate Guillermo S. Hamlin, who is a naturalized citizen born in Paraguay. “This is about doing the work and being accessible to review the petitions and concerns of aggrieved taxpayers and cultivating remedies via bylaw amendments whenever appropriate."
For 2020 town election
Last year, AFR supported more than three dozen Town Meeting candidates, with more than two-thirds winning election. Eight candidates of color won seats, bringing Town Meeting into closer alignment with our community demographics, and setting a standard for future elections.
"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 it’s changing demographic, rather than simply tolerating it," said Town Meeting member Melanie Brown. "The voters responded to our call for inclusion. 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."
AFR has released a detailed values statement (arlingtonfightsracism.com/values) that was created with input from community members, with an emphasis on engaging BIPOC and other marginalized group members. The statement communicates AFR’s most important values and the efforts that will support them including increasing the diversity of representation in town government, addressing institutional racism, providing access to affordable housing, and ensuring Arlington is a safe community for all.
BOARD OF ASSESSORS
Guillermo S. Hamlin
TOWN MEETING CANDIDATES
Jennifer Lynn Mansfield
Engjellushe Kozeli Mozina
Nicole Maryann Nigoghossian
Laura B. Gitelson
Charles Reese Wescott
Lauren Bellon – seat for 2 years
Claire W. Johnson
Ines Montserrat Zuckerman – seat for 1 year
Sarah Doyle McKinnon
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.
Visit ArlingtonFightsRacism.com for more information.
This viewpoint was published Friday, March 12, 2021.
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