Thank you for your December 27 issue, reporting about two important conversations currently happening in the town of Northborough: The expansion of the Communities for Restorative Justice Program to Northborough, and the discussion about changing the name of the Board of Selectmen to Select Board.
I commend those responsible for addressing these critical topics in the interest of our town and all its residents.
I would like to comment on the discussion about the Selectmen name change. Two current board members were quoted saying they were against the name change. In particular, one noted: “It’s historical; it’s New England; and I don’t understand why we would throw out history just because some of us don’t want to be called selectman.”
Yes, the term is historical. It is a term from a time when only men could serve on the board, which is no longer the case. We cannot and should not throw out history, but we must learn from it for the sake of our future. For example, Northborough’s and New England’s history includes sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia, all of which are engrained into our institutions and structures of government. In response to systems of oppression and discrimination large and small, residents of our town have been working to promote a more inclusive and diverse society. Changing the name from “Selectmen” to “Select Board” would be one, simple way—at the town government level—to send an important message to all residents of Northborough and beyond: We learn from our past, we strive to improve the lives of all, and we update our language to recognize each person’s humanity and to fully reflect the diversity of our town and those who serve its government.
The name change is not a matter of personal taste–it is a matter of principle. I am proud to be a part of this town as we continue to make history together.
Rev. Valeria Schmidt
Northborough resident and registered voter