My name is Christopher Haley, and I am running for the sole open Select Board seat for the Town of Reading this coming April.
My path to Reading is like so many of yours. My former wife and I wanted to start a family in a safe community with highly rated public schools. So, after much research, we decided to plant our roots in Reading a little over 12 years ago.
In 2008, we found our first Reading home on Causeway Road, the first or last street in Reading depending on how you look at it. In 2012, my first daughter, currently in third grade at Birch Meadow Elementary School, was born. Shortly thereafter, I took the plunge at securing my family’s future and started an IT & Security Company with my business partner. We both had one year old children at the time, but we had the drive and ambition to make it successful. We started with a small goal; making enough money to pay our mortgages every month. Despite initial challenges, including financing the business on a shoestring budget, we have grown into a highly profitable small business supporting nine employees across three states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
In 2018 my current wife and I decided to expand our family. We started looking at adding an addition or second floor to our ranch house but with another little one on the way, it did not make sense at the time. Due to our love of Reading and a focus to keep our daughter in the same school, we started looking at other houses in the Birch Meadow area. We quickly found one on Tennyson Road which we were able to secure in a competitive bidding process. Our secret weapon, a letter written by our daughter about her forthcoming baby sister, caused our bid to stand out and we were able to secure our forever home. We celebrate that creative, out of the box thinking every day when we look at the framed letter in the entry way to our home.
At the end of 2019, once again I had a choice to make, this time with my business partner. Our company needed space to expand and my love for Reading made it the obvious choice. We decided to relocate the office from the City of Woburn to Haven Street in downtown Reading. The location was perfect for our business as it is one of the few locations in Reading with ample parking, numerous other small businesses and is within bicycle or electric scooter distance from our home for me and our oldest daughter. We closed on the office at the beginning of February and then a month later COVID-19 hit.
I am running for the Select Board because of my passion for what Reading was and what it can be. The passion for Reading runs through our family as my wife is a member of the PTO board at Birch Meadow Elementary School. Unfortunately, within the last few years, we have both seen the political climate in Reading shift greatly. This shift has negatively impacted the perception of Reading across the state and nationally with the micro-managing and political discourse on display for all to see. I plan on bringing an authentic appreciation for where our small town has been and a clear lens for our future here.
With the aftermath of COVID-19, I plan on focusing on three things: Parking, Small Businesses and Public Safety. We cannot have a thriving downtown without small businesses. I know firsthand you cannot have small businesses without parking for your customers. Both topics have been longstanding issues for Reading, its small business owners, and its residents. Without adequate parking small businesses suffer. Without small businesses, the residents suffer; through the lack of purchasing choices and through the lack of a commercial tax base. Thus, these two topics are inextricably intertwined. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has dealt many small business owners a fatal blow with 37% of small businesses in Massachusetts shuttered. At least four of those small businesses used to be in the office space on Haven Street where my business is located. Therefore, the time is now to elect a person with experience in understanding the challenges small business owner face and the proven ability to grow a small business.
With respect to Public Safety, those in essential service roles are near and dear to my heart as my wife has worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for the last 16 years. I want to reestablish the confidence that Reading residents should have in their Public Safety officials. Chief Clark and his department have been key contributors to the fact that Reading has been recognized as the 19th safest community in the United States by Neighborhood Scout once again. The community policing, the School Resource Officer and Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support are prime examples of a proactive and positive police presence in a community. Additionally, my own personal experience with the fire department has been lifesaving; my wife and youngest daughter had a scary experience which they quickly helped address. As such, my support for Chief Burns and his group of firefighters is unwavering. In my role on the Select Board, I will vocally support their roles in our community.
In conclusion, I am a father of two amazing girls, and I have a loving wife. I am a local small business owner. I live in Reading, I work in Reading, I eat lunch in Reading, and I sleep in Reading. I am for what is in the best interest of our small town and would love to understand your concerns and earn your support.