Letters to the editor – Wicked Local

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Jon Benson is a ‘longtime advocate for an inclusive Acton’

I have been an Acton resident for 22 years. I am writing to endorse Jon Benson, the chair of the Board of Selectmen (BOS), in his bid for a second term.

I met Jon last June when organizing a webinar on BLM, racial justice, and diversity on behalf of the Acton Chinese American Civic Society. Jon enthusiastically accepted my invitation to be a speaker and spent over two weeks researching and interviewing Acton residents. His talk on Acton’s diversity and history acted as a springboard for additional discussions about race in our community. Many Acton residents and organizations praised the webinar as the first open dialogue on racial issues in the town. Under Jon’s leadership, the BOS formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission shortly thereafter.

Jon has also modeled how to grow and learn in the public sphere. After the racist Zoom bombing incident targeting two Black members of the Acton-Boxborough School Committee in December, the BOS called an emergency meeting, issued a strong statement condemning the hate crime, and kick-started an investigation. The BOS’s swift action was commendable but received appropriate criticism for failing to center the affected members. Jon took it upon himself to apologize publicly for this mishandling at the next BOS meeting. In today’s society, it is much easier to criticize others than reflect upon and learn.

More important than Jon’s words are his actions. He was among the few white community leaders to support a candidate of color running for the School Committee back in 2007. And Jon continued to lend his support to another candidate of color in 2019. Jon has long advocated for lower-income and more vulnerable groups in Acton through concrete policy work such as affordable housing. Jon cares to build a sustainable Acton, and he has pushed the hiring of a full-time sustainability director.

Jon is a good listener, and he encourages openness in discussions and never rushes to judge. As an engineer, I appreciate Jon’s pragmatic approach to solving the town’s issues and his efforts to balance the interests and needs of different groups. A retired lawyer, Jon is well-versed in law and backs his arguments with evidence. I trust Jon to continue building an inclusive town and get things done for Acton. Please join me to vote for Jon Benson on March 30!

Dawn Wang

Acton

Fran Arsenault is ‘committed to listening to all community members’

I am enthusiastically endorsing Fran Arsenault for the Acton Board of Selectmen because her diverse skill set and experiences make her an excellent candidate to serve on this board.

Her membership on the Steering Committee of Racial Justice for Black Lives shows her commitment to making Acton a more welcoming place for everyone. Her service on the Historic District Commission shows that she balances preserving history with the ability to address the challenges of Acton in 2021. In addition, she has years of experience interacting with people of diverse economic, racial and demographic backgrounds as a real estate agent. 

I am continually surprised by the strong emphasis that is placed on the length of time someone has lived in town. To me, the quality and feasibility of a person’s ideas should be emphasized, not how long someone has been an Actonian. A few years ago, at a meeting of an Acton nonpartisan group, there was a discussion about two women who were new to Acton and wanted to get involved. They thought moving Town Meetings to a Saturday would make it easier for parents and seniors to participate. The immediate response? These newcomers should have known before they moved here that there was a history of how things are done in Acton. 

I believe Fran would have responded differently. Fran is committed to listening to all members of the community, not just those who have lived here for years or decades. She has and will continue to invite and encourage participation by all residents, especially those who have felt unheard.

We need a fresh perspective and a commitment to represent all of Acton on our governing body. That’s why I am voting for Fran Arsenault.

Please visit her website at http://franarsenault.com.

Linda Vieira

Member, Steering Committee of Indivisible Acton and Acton Democratic Town Committee

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