Fran Arsenault: A New Dawn for the Acton Select Board
BY ADI RAMAN '23
March 30 marks Fran Arsenault’s victory in the Acton Select Board elections, edging out incumbent Jon Benson with a 51.63% majority. In Acton’s ever-changing environment, it is imperative to adapt alongside it; Ms. Arsenault feels that she has the capabilities to set Acton on a path forward that matches the town’s new racial and political dynamics. We sat down with Ms. Arsenault to dive deeper into her background, policies, and visions for the town.
As an Acton resident for over thirty years, Arsenault attributes the school system, history, and semi-rural feel of the town as incentives for her and others to move here. She has observed an influx of people coming into town, especially many people of color: “I think it’s awesome, and we need to celebrate that,” she commented. Ms. Arsenault recognizes the importance of a community that is welcoming and safe for all residents, and this mindset carries over into her vision as an upcoming Board member.
When asked why she was interested in running, Ms. Arsenault explained that “I wanted to run because I love Acton and wanted to give back to the town.” She added, “I know that sounds so cliché, but I truly hope to bring the town together.” Ms. Arsenault confided that she was also disappointed in the Select Board’s lukewarm efforts to challenge racism and other forms of hate that plague the community. As a member of the town’s Steering Committee of Racial Justice for Black Lives (RJ4BL), she plans on continuing to confront acts of discrimination and finding direct solutions to combat them.
Arsenault also hopes to implement a formal reporting system where community members will be encouraged to spread awareness about incidents of racism, antisemitism, and other hateful conduct in the school districts and on a townwide scale. She acknowledges that this idea is still in the works but plans on coordinating with community BIPOC, the School Committee, and local religious leaders to bring this system to fruition. She stressed, “it’s time for decisive action to be taken, and to do that, we need a decisive method.”
To bolster racial and religious support systems, Ms. Arsenault is also interested in establishing a team of social workers at the police department. She notes that “having professionals at the police department that are called in for mental health crises and substance abuse is important for equity.”
Arsenault further wants a greater emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for school and town staff hiring practices. She is concerned that current employment demographics are not reflective of Acton in 2021.
Having been a realtor by trade, Ms. Arsenault is excited to watch new establishments—such as a newly confirmed Asian market on Great Road—move into town. She hopes to see the small business demographic change as the town continues to create a community more representative of its diversity. She added, “It’s all about what people want to see. Making Acton a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable place requires collaboration. And what really matters is what people want in town.”
Ms. Arsenault encourages everyone to attend the town meeting on June 21, where she will be sworn into office. Following another low voting turnout for this year’s Selectmen elections, she aspires to create bigger town forums where town leaders and other residents can voice their concerns and hopes for the future. “I’m really excited to serve on the Board,” she continues. “And now, I can’t wait to work with everyone in our community as we move forward.”
For more information on Fran Arsenault, please visit https://franarsenault.com/