Letter to OR Somerville

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

For those of you asking why there was not an Our Revolution Somerville (ORS) Forum last night, I wanted to share my thoughts on what happened.

Yesterday, I withdrew my application for the endorsement of Our Revolution Somerville and joined others in our community in asking ORS to transparently address a series of concerning actions taken by the organization that recently were brought to light.

A duly qualified candidate for City Council was barred from participating in an ORS candidates’ forum despite having submitted a completed candidate questionnaire within a reasonable time frame. The candidate, Stephenson Aman, is from a family of Haitian immigrants. He is known for overcoming several challenges including disability and he is known for his volunteer work as a youth mentor, coach, and vocal advocate for his community.

These actions taken by ORS leadership, to silence Stephenson, can not be reconciled with my own vision of Somerville as an inclusive, equitable city where we can all thrive together, without exception. For nearly three decades in Somerville, I have worked as a volunteer, in business, and as a city councilor for this vision of Somerville. These are my values, these are the values of my campaign and I believe that these are our shared values in Somerville, to be inclusive, transparent, and to hear and value all of our voices.

In calling for ORS to address these concerns I joined with other candidates, namely, Tracey Leah Pratt, Beatriz Gómez Mouakad, and Judy Pineda Neufeld, who have released a joint statement together with Stephenson. Other candidates, including Councilor Jesse Clingan, Councilor Kristen Strezo, Councilor Matt McLaughlin, School Committee member Andre Green, School Committee member Sarah Phillips, candidate for Mayor Mary Cassesso, Candidate for City Council Justin Kleokota, Candidate for City Council Alex Anderson have since also withdrawn their applications for endorsement. I thank them for doing so.

I believe that it is appropriate to request that ORS undertake a transparent process, to review their systems and structures to ensure that they are consistent with the stated mission of ORS and that they are consistent with our shared values. I also believe that it is reasonable to expect ORS to make the changes necessary, to ensure that they will not cause such harm in the future, and to report the findings of the review to all of us in Somerville.

With hard work and self-reflection, I look forward to seeing how ORS grows as a progressive organization in the future. After ORS addresses these real concerns, I know they can continue to play a role in helping us make Somerville a more progressive, inclusive, transparent, and equitable city.