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Selectmen share their thoughts about Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Editor’s Note: For this week’s column, we reached out to each of the members of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee and asked them the following question.

  Q: As the nation prepares to observe Martin Luther King Day, do you have any thoughts you would like to share on where Saugus stands in providing opportunities for people of color and ethnic diversity? Are you aware of any local celebration of this day?

Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta:

  Saugus town workers have Monday, January 16th off from work to recognize Martin Luther King Day. Saugus is a diverse community, and as a Town, we are an equal opportunity employer.

  Dr. King was a great leader who worked tirelessly for racial equality and to end racial segregation. We had two ‘Black Lives Matter’ parades/rallies where everyone who attended was treated with dignity and respect. Residents, including Town officials and employees, listened attentively to each speaker.

  Saugus residents were appalled when three arrogant people held a sign over Route 1 exhibiting anti-Semitism. A rally was held to show our support for the Jewish community where residents, officials, and town employees attended. We also had our first lighting of the menorah this year in front of Saugus Town Hall which showed our support for the Jewish community.

  I believe that Saugus is a welcoming community to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. In fact, I welcome all residents to get more involved with our Town, whether it be volunteering for a committee or board, applying for a job, or running for elected office. I am proud to live in Saugus, and I appreciate the openness and respectfulness of our residents.

  It is important that we recognize and honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s contributions and teachings by working together and listening to one another.

Selectman Corinne Riley:

  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pioneer for fighting for equality and injustice caused by prejudices of race and color. He was definitely a hero. There are still many injustices in our country, but I feel there is a brighter light shining on specific examples of how much more we need to change to make this world a place where power isn’t the end game of humanity.

  As far as Saugus is concerned, I believe there are many positions filled by women, people of color and various sexual orientations. I do not believe that hiring is decided by the color of one’s skin, sexual orientation or religious points of view to get a position in town departments, but rather based on who is best suited for the job. There aren’t many minorities represented in our local government, but there are ample possibilities to alleviate that. We are an equal opportunity town, and I encourage more diverse residents to get involved. Change cannot happen until we hear from the people to join in on their community. This was one of the reasons I wanted to hold Saugus 411; to get new people involved in local government as well as non-profit organizations.

  Saugus has residents of many new nationalities moving into town and I hope they feel welcomed enough to step up and take out papers to run for any and all local positions. If people of different cultures, races, religions, and sexual orientations feel their voices aren’t being heard, what better way to get involved than in local politics and volunteering.

Selectman Michael Serino:

  Dr. Martin Luther King remains one of the most prominent civil rights leaders in our country. As we prepare to observe his birthday this weekend, we should celebrate his importance in advocating for equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Boston is where Dr. King had first met his wife Coretta Scott King. As we mark his birthday, a monument titled “The Embrace” will be dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King on Boston Common.

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