Hi, I’m Ezra Fischer and I’m running for Town Meeting in Precinct Four. When I made a career change from being a teacher to working for myself as an independent Salesforce administrator, I made a deal with myself: I would use the freedom and flexibility that my new job offered to be a better family member, partner, and friend. In the years since that choice, I’ve felt the call to add citizen to that list. Serving my community as a town meeting representative is one way for me to put the flexibility of working for myself to good use. I have the wherewithal to stay up to date on local issues and develop my own opinions while also seeking out those of my neighbors.
I would love to hear from you about your priorities and views!
Or ring my doorbell at 32 Thorndike Street where I live with my partner, Sonja (on the left in the picture above), and our cat Tuukka.
What is Town Meeting?
Town meetings have been an important part of government in Massachusetts and throughout New England since the 1600s. Arlington has a representative town meeting, which means that Arlington residents elect people from their precinct to attend the annual meetings and vote on warrant articles. Each of Arlington’s 21 precincts elect four town meeting representatives each year for three year terms for a total of 252 representatives. Town meeting as a whole has two key powers:
- It controls the money, including appropriations for programs and the salaries of elected officials
- It serves as the legislative branch of town government, voting on proposed town by-laws
Here are a few ways that town meeting may have affected your life in the past year:
- Funded a bikeshare program in town (first the lime green and now the blue bikes)
- Regulated new construction and major renovations to push for greener infrastructure
- Formed a committee to study the creation of a civilian police advisory board
I’d love to stay in touch with you about issues related to town politics.
Two other candidates for Town Meeting in Precinct Four, Judith E. Garber and Sarah C. Evans have been endorsed by Arlington Fights Racism as well as two candidates in town-wide races, Kelda Fontenot for Housing Authority, and Guillermo Hamlin for Assessor. I encourage you to vote for all five of us!
Join for my Town Hall
I would love to see you and talk to you at a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Mar 24, 2021 at 7:00 PM.
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the.
On the Issues
One of the challenges of running for Town Meeting, particularly during a pandemic, is that you don’t get a ton of information about the people you are voting for. In order to provide some more information about how I think about various political and procedural topics, I went through the Warrant Articles from the last Town Meeting and chose several of the more interesting ones to share how I would have voted and why. Actual Town Meeting votes should be a blend of the member’s opinion and that of the people they are representing, so I would be (and am on these simulated votes) open to hearing your thoughts as well!
|Warrant Articles||My Thoughts|
|Article 4: BYLAW AMENDMENT/MINUTEMAN BIKEWAY HOURS|
To see if the Town will vote to amend Title III, Article 1, Section 10 of the Town Bylaws (Minuteman Bikeway Hours) to extend the operating hours of the Minuteman Bikeway; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted by the Select Board at the request of Adam MacNeill and ten registered voters)
|I’m in favor of extending the operating hours on the bike path for a number of reasons. I generally believe that people can be trusted to do simple things like travel at night. The people who need to commute to Alewife during the night by and large are working class people doing essential jobs who deserve to live in Arlington without facing undue obstacles. Perhaps most importantly, rules like this are prone to uneven enforcement that has historically and continues to be slanted against people of color.|
|ARTICLE 5: HOME RULE LEGISLATION/BYLAW AMENDMENT/ FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE|
To see if the Town will vote to authorize and request the Select Board to file Home Rule Legislation to allow the Town of Arlington to regulate fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and/or major renovation and rehabilitation projects in Arlington for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging renewable energy production and use, notwithstanding the State Building Code, the Gas Code, M.G.L. c. 164 or any other law of the Commonwealth regulating natural gas as a residential utility; and further to vote to establish a new section of Title VI of the Town Bylaws prohibiting or otherwise regulating the installation of fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction projects and/or major renovation and rehabilitation projects in Arlington, and to set forth the terms and scope of such prohibition, including exemptions or waivers to same; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted by the Select Board and at the request of the Clean Energy Future Committee)
|This warrant would require new development and major renovations to use renewables instead of fossil fuel unless a waiver is granted. I’m in favor of cleaner power whenever possible. The regulation suggested by the Select Board seems to have enough exceptions and potential waivers to adjust to any common-sense needs for new gas installations while nudging the majority of builders toward greener infrastructure. This aligns with Massachusetts’ goals of reducing emissions by 80% in the next thirty years. It also aligns with the choices my partner and I have made about our own home – we installed solar hot water and solar panels and an air-source heat pump. I know not everyone can make those choices voluntarily, but we should expect it of new construction and other major projects.|
|ARTICLE 6: VOTE/ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICE CIVILIAN ADVISORY BOARD STUDY COMMITTEE|
To see if the Town will vote to form a Committee to study the creation of an Arlington police civilian review board independent from the police department with the authority and resources to receive and investigate complaints, review police services and make recommendations for their improvement. The study committee shall be comprised of seven (7) voting members and three (3) non-voting members. The study committee will make its decisions based on the vote of a simple majority of the committee’s voting members who shall be appointed to the committee by: the Envision Arlington Standing Committee (1); the Arlington Human Rights Commission (1); the LGBTQIA & Rainbow Commission (1); the Disability Commission (1); the Board of Youth Services (1); the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee (1); and the Town Moderator (1). Non-voting members of the committee shall include one (1) representative from the Arlington Police Department, the Town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, and the Town Counsel. The membership of the study committee’s voting members will include at least one Town Meeting member and shall reflect racial/ethnic and other forms of diversity of Town residents. The study committee will complete its work and recommendations and shall report to the 2021 Annual town Meeting; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted by the Select Board at the request of Jordan Weinstein and ten registered voters)
|This is a tough one – from what I have learned about police reform movements, civilian advisory boards tend not to make a material impact on police violence and other forms of abuse. This vote would not even form an advisory board, just a committee to eventually make a recommendation about whether our town should have a civilian advisory board. This is a long, slow path to walk, especially when the destination isn’t all that promising. I would vote in favor, because I support efforts to change the nature of law enforcement in our society, but I would be enthusiastic about more immediate efforts to create meaningful change and would work toward those in parallel.|
|ARTICLE 8: ACCEPTANCE OF LEGISLATION/BYLAW AMENDMENT/MUNICIPAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND|
To see if the Town will vote to accept Massachusetts General Laws c. 44 § 55C, to authorize the creation of a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund to support the development of affordable housing in Arlington, establish a new bylaw for the administration of same; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted by the Select Board)
|Yes – anything government can do to increase the availability of affordable housing in Arlington is a good thing.|
|ARTICLE 10: ACCEPTANCE OF LEGISLATION/GOLD STAR FAMILY TAX EXEMPTION|
To see if the Town will vote to accept Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 sec. 5(22H) to provide a local option to surviving parents or guardians of members of the United States armed services who died on active duty tax exemption; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)
|The parents or guardians of people who died in the Armed Services should absolutely be able to live free of property tax. I had not heard of this until I read the warrant, and it’s an excellent way for local government to provide financial compensation to people who we feel are owed a debt from society. As long as we are also financially prudent, we could and should consider extending this type of benefit to other such groups.|
|ARTICLE 14 HOME RULE LEGISLATION/SENIOR WATER DISCOUNT|
To see if the Town will vote to authorize and request the Select Board to file Home Rule Legislation or other Special Legislation which would permit the Town to discount fees charged to qualifying, means-tested Arlington Seniors for water and sewer usage; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted by the Select Board)
|This would give Arlington the ability to extend water and sewer bill relief to a wider group of seniors living in town. I’m definitely in favor of this and I would hope we can find a similar or greater way of providing support to seniors who are not homeowners but who live in town since water/sewer bills are usually paid by landlords.|
|ARTICLE 15 HOME RULE LEGISLATION/RETIRED POLICE OFFICER DETAILS|
To see if the Town will vote to authorize and request the Select Board to file Home Rule Legislation, as set forth below, to allow retired police officers to work police details; or take any action related thereto.
AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE APPOINTMENT OF RETIRED POLICE OFFICERS AS SPECIAL POLICE OFFICERS IN THE TOWN OF ARLINGTON
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. The Town Manager of the Town of Arlington may appoint, at the recommendation of the Chief of Police and as the Chief of Police deems necessary, retired police officers as special police officers for the purpose of performing police details and any police duties arising therefrom or during the course of police detail work, whether or not related to the detail work, when the special police officer is on detail assignment and an emergency response by the special police officer is required due to the inability of a regular police officer to timely respond to the emergency. Such retired police officers must have previously served as regular full-time police officers for the Town of Arlington who voluntarily retired based upon superannuation under the provisions of chapter 32 of the General Laws.
No retired police officer shall be eligible for appointment under this act if such officer has reached the mandatory age for retirement of police officers specified in chapter 32 of the General Laws and regulations promulgated thereunder and the employment of any officer appointed under this act shall terminate upon attaining such age. No officer who has been retired from the Town of Arlington Police Department for more than five years shall be eligible for appointment under this act unless the officer has maintained employment since the date of retirement as an active police officer in the Commonwealth. Prior to being appointed under this act every officer who is to be appointed must pass a medical examination by a physician chosen by the Town to determine that such officer is capable of performing the essential duties of a special police officer under this act. The cost of such examination shall be borne by the special police officer. Such officer shall provide certification to the Town that the officer is covered by personal health insurance.
SECTION 2. Special police officers appointed under this act shall not be subject to chapter 31 of the General Laws; sections 85H and 85H ½ of chapter 32 of the General Laws; sections 99A, 100, or 111F of chapter 41 of the General Laws; or chapter 150E of the General Laws. Special police officers appointed under this act shall be subject to chapter 151A of the General Laws.
SECTION 3. Special police officers appointed under this act shall, when performing their duties set forth in this act, have the same power to make arrests and to perform other police functions as do regular police officers of the Town of Arlington.
SECTION 4. Special police officers shall be appointed for a term of one year, subject to renewal in the Town Manager’s sole discretion. During the term of appointment, the officer shall serve at the pleasure of the Town Manager, subject to removal by the Town Manager at any time with or without cause. Any such removal shall be preceded by a fourteen-day written notice unless considerations of public safety and welfare, determined in the Town Manager’s sole discretion, require immediate removal. In such instances, the Town Manager shall provide the officer with a written statement of reasons for the immediate removal.
SECTION 5. Special police officers appointed under this act shall be subject to the rules and regulations, policies and procedures and requirements of the Police Department and the Chief of Police of the Town of Arlington, including restrictions on the type of detail assignments, requirements regarding medical examinations to determine continuing capability to perform the duties of a special police officer, requirements for training, requirements for firearms qualifications and licensing, and requirements regarding uniforms and equipment. Compliance with all requirements will be at no cost to the Town of Arlington. Special police officers appointed under this act shall not be subject to section 96B of chapter 41 of the General Laws.
SECTION 6. Special police officers appointed under this act shall be sworn before the Town Clerk of the Town of Arlington who shall keep a record of all such appointments.
SECTION 7. Appointment as a special police officer under this act shall not entitle any officer appointed as such to assignment to any specific detail or type of detail, and all such assignments shall be made in the sole discretion of the Chief of Police. Special police officers appointed under this act shall be paid the hourly detail rate applicable to regular full-time officers, including any changes to such rate, but shall not be entitled to any other Town benefits.
SECTION 8. Retired police officers appointed as special police officers under this act shall be subject to the limitations on hours worked and on earnings by retired municipal employees under paragraph (b) of section 91 of chapter 32 of the General Laws. Any such officer shall, on or before January thirty-first of each calendar year, file a sworn statement with the Arlington Contributory Retirement Board on a prescribed form identifying the compensated number of hours worked for, and all earnings therefrom, for the Commonwealth and any of its subdivisions for which the police officer worked during the preceding calendar year.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
— (Inserted by the Select Board)
|This warrant would allow the town to hire retired police officers for police details, which are generally routine duties like being present at road work or staffing events.|
While the specifics of this proposal are reasonable, I would vote no on this warrant because we are all best served by giving the town as much bargaining power as possible the next time there is collective bargaining between it and the police union. We should preserve this concession as something the town can offer in return for police reform, not undercut our own bargaining position.
|ARTICLE 18: ZONING BYLAW AMENDMENT/IMPROVING RESIDENTIAL INCLUSIVENESS, SUSTAINABILITY, AND AFFORDABILITY BY ENDING SINGLE FAMILY ZONING|
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Bylaw for the Town of Arlington by expanding the set of allowed residential uses in the R0 and R1 zoning districts with the goal of expanding and diversifying the housing stock by altering the district definitions for the R0 and R1 zoning districts; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted at the request of Benjamin Rudick and ten registered voters)
|I’m in favor of expanding zoning and while I understand the recommendation of the ARB to take no action on this article for procedural reasons, I would have voted in favor of it. The goals of choice, affordability, environmentalism, and racial justice as expressed in this article are ones that I share and I believe that zoning is an appropriate and effective way of furthering them. These goals should override concerns about the aesthetics or feel of our town.|
|ARTICLE 20: ZONING BYLAW AMENDMENT/PARKING REDUCTIONS IN THE B3 AND B5 DISTRICTS|
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow the Board of Appeals or Arlington Redevelopment Board, as applicable, to reduce the parking requirement to as low as zero in the B3 and B5 Districts through Special Permit where businesses have no ability to create new parking by amending SECTION 6.1.5. PARKING REDUCTION IN BUSINESS, INDUSTRIAL, AND MULTI-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL ZONES; or take any action related thereto.
— (Inserted at the request of the Redevelopment Board)
|I am definitely in favor of allowing businesses to exist without providing parking. Having lived in a particularly dense neighborhood in Queens, NY, I understand there’s a point at which it’s so hard to park that it discourages business but Arlington is nowhere near that limit.|
|ARTICLE 25 RESOLUTION/BLACK LIVES MATTER BANNER AT TOWN HALL|
To see if the Town will vote to or take any action related thereto: Be it hereby resolved, that it is the will of Town Meeting that the Town of Arlington continue to display a Black Lives Matter banner on Town Hall until such time as Town Meeting recommends its removal, or takes any action related thereto.
— (Inserted at the request of Katell Gullec and 100 registered voters)
|I was one of the 100 signatures on this article so I would definitely vote in favor. Meaningful anti-racist policy would be better than a symbolic gesture, but my sense is that the removal of the Black Lives Matter banner from Town Hall was a sign that anti-racist policy would be less likely to succeed in Arlington, not more.|