Wellesley’s 2019 Unified Plan lists diversity as a core value. What are your top priorities for making Wellesley a community that welcomes a diversity of people and households?
Recently, Wellesley applied for a grant through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to develop a Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan (REMAP). Unfortunately, our grant request was not approved, so instead the town has begun exploring how to embark on this process ourselves. We have approved funding for a consultant to aid in establishing a representative task force or working group. This is a priority for me and I was very supportive of the funding for this initiative. Building a strong foundation at the outset of this work is crucial to ensure that the steps we take are meaningful and the actions we pursue are successful.
Wellesley is not alone in exploring ways to address racial inequity. We can learn from, and leverage the experience of, similar towns and community partners. The Select Board will soon hold a forum to learn more about the REMAP program and have invited an MAPC representative and a manager from a peer town that is currently developing a REMAP plan. This is the first step in developing a strategic plan to engage with residents of diverse backgrounds, hear their concerns and be responsive. Wellesley Public School’s (WPS) recently-hired director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has spent her first year doing the foundational work necessary to build a strategic plan for inclusiveness in our schools. As we go through a similar process on the municipal side, forming a strong partnership with WPS will be a priority.
What actions should the Select Board take to address systemic racism in Wellesley institutions?
To identify appropriate actions to take, we must first support the formation of a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) task force. We have learned from early discussions with other municipalities doing this work that critical factors to success include forming a group with as many voices as possible represented, especially those seldom heard in town government, and supporting this team as it identifies what matters to address in their work, and along what timeline. The Select Board should provide on-going support to the DEI working group, and be guided by their outcomes and recommendations.
Do you support or oppose ballot question 1 to honor Indigenous Peoples Day and cease to celebrate Columbus Day? Why?
As I have listened and learned more about the movement to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, I have come to understand why a national holiday of celebration is long overdue. Moreover, I have come to better understand how Columbus Day has become synonymous with colonialism and the end of a way of life for indigenous people. While I am very sympathetic to the Italian American community’s desire to maintain their celebration, I feel that America is evolving and we should celebrate all immigrants for the sacrifices they make and the benefits they bring. I would support celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in October and finding another day to celebrate all immigrants.