Opinion: Defining The ‘No’ Victory

Photo: A No

By Marie Warner, Precinct 6

Gratitude. 

Before any commentary on the path that led to a victory for NO Override NOW, we start with profound gratitude. 

Thank you to all the voters who voted no on Ballot Question 1. Thank you for your support and your hope that your vote makes a difference. It did.

Thank you to our neighbors, homeowners, renters and business supporters who promoted the campaign with our yard signs and through our flyers and through calls. Thank you for this courage. We are appalled that some of you now are experiencing backlash and bullying from disappointed ‘Yes’ supporters.

Thank you to the NO Override NOW volunteers who assembled, delivered and held campaign signs for hours, while swamped in a sea of maroon and white “Yes Override” signs. You are the best, most dedicated team ever.

Thank you to the Belmont neighbors who cheered on those sign bearers with your “thumbs-up” and car honking. Your encouragement gave us hope. 

Thank you to the campaign team and all our talented supporters who devoted time, boundless energy, innovative ideas and who donated their dollars to help boost this campaign to success.

Thank you all. You are totally awesome.

How it started: The path to No Override Now started in September 2020, when the Select Board approved a $12.5 million override for the November 2020 ballot. Although town officials acknowledged this override was “a big ask,” it was approved.  

This “big ask’ was later withdrawn, citing unanticipated funding from the state, and an unexpectedly high cash reserve. Or perhaps the town officials surmised that the $12.5 million would not succeed at the polls and withdrew the override. Nevertheless, in making this withdrawal, the “guarantee” of an imminent override was given by town officials, and sure enough, a $6.4 million override was unanimously approved by the Select Board and placed on the April, 2021 Ballot.  

The NO Override NOW Committee was launched in response to this “act of hostility” to struggling Belmont residents and businesses, as eloquently stated by one of the NO Override NOW supporters. We could not imagine how town officials, employees, committees could unanimously champion an added tax burden on residents and businesses still suffering from the stress and financial strain of the pandemic. We could not believe those town officials could advance another tax increase, after the 2020 debt exclusion, which significantly increased Belmont taxes, the highest tax increase of all 351 communities in the state.  

And we decided to fight.

The supporters of NO Override NOW are truly grass-root Belmontians. We had not been caught up in Belmont town politics nor special interests.  Many of us are long-term residents who have steadfastly supported the town of Belmont for years, some for multiple generations. We are diverse and inclusive, with progressives, moderates, conservatives, parents, seniors and young professionals. Our supporters showed heart and grit, in a fight that we knew was just; to help some of the most vulnerable Belmont residents who could not afford this additional tax burden.

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