Evan Ross: Elect a progressive Amherst Town Council

Amherst Town Hall

Amherst Town Hall

Published: 11-03-2023 5:22 AM

Amherst holds up its progressive values as a point of pride, and we demand our Town Council reflect those values. Luckily, by reelecting progressive incumbents and adding newcomers, we can have a more progressive council.

A progressive Town Council means we must reelect Anika Lopes in District 4, Pat DeAngelis in District 2, and Mandi Jo Hanneke at-large. Anika has been a critical voice on our council, applying her family’s deep history in Amherst as a lens through which to view our present and future. As a Black and Afro-Indigenous small business owner, she is focused on building an equitable economy and community.

Pat DeAngelis has been described by many as the “conscience of the council.” From writing legislation to protecting low-wage workers from wage theft, to fighting for affordable housing, to writing our town’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride proclamation, Pat is the definition of putting progressive values into action.

In Amherst, the housing affordability crisis drives inequities across racial, socioeconomic, and generational lines. We can’t achieve racial equity without undoing decades of racism built into our zoning code, a legacy of redlining and racial covenants. Mandi Jo Hanneke has put in the hard work to reform our zoning to make housing in Amherst more diverse, affordable, and equitable. We can’t have a more progressive council without reelecting these three.

We also have the opportunity to add new voices, and I am excited about Freke Ette in District 1 and Heather “Hala” Lord in District 3. Freke serves on the Community Safety & Social Justice Committee, putting in the work to create systemic change in Amherst. Hala has made anti-racism her life’s work, and will continue that work on the council. Both Freke and Hala have helped uplift marginalized voices and end structural racism. We must elect them to the council.

In Amherst, many candidates wield the label “progressive.” But these five have walked the walk and put in the work. I hope voters on Nov. 7 will elect the progressive candidates Ette, DeAngelis, Lord, Lopes and Hanneke.

Evan R. Ross

Former Amherst town councilor, Amherst