Letter to the Editor: Cerino Should Recuse From Ajax Basketball Court Vote

This last year was a historical time for this country and for our community.  We have witnessed people stand en masse, some for the first time, to speak against the injustices perpetrated by our systems and the impact these injustices continue to have on our African-American communities.

But we have only scratched the surface of the work that still needs to be done.  Every generation of African Americans in this country has been fighting for their lives and fighting for their voices to be heard and it is a constant challenge to discern who to trust in this fight and if real change will even come in our lifetime.

The Chestertown Mayor, staff, and council members need to understand how their tone and processes have led members of Social Action Committee for Racial Justice to distrust the official message of “Chestertown Unites Against Racism.”

Agreeing to stand against racism is important, but how we go about that work speaks volumes. If we don’t trust your ability to lead this process, to listen to residents of color, to engage with us in an honest and transparent way, then you jeopardize the outcome.

For example, Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz’s comments that a search for a new police chief should consider more diverse and less expensive candidates offended many of us. The conversation at the council meeting where the mayor presented the 16-month plan sent shivers down our spine when  Herz and Mayor Cerino talked over Ward 3 Councilman Tolliver and questioned his initiative to move forward with a human rights commission.

And most recently, the hot-mic video of Mayor Cerino and Zoning Administrator Kees de Mooy questioning the historical significance of the Ajax basketball court just proved to our community that two faces exist even in “progressive” Chestertown.

The first face is the one that stands in front of crowds and cries tears to their constituents that they wanted to stand for justice after the death of George Floyd or give a speech taking credit for the approval of the Black Lives Matter murals.

The other face is the one that hides behind closed doors and undermines any progress we as a community attempt to make towards addressing systemic racism and supporting our black community.

Mr. Mayor your credibility is now in question along with implementation of any plans to address racism in this town.   We ask that you recuse yourself from any future voting on the Ajax project.

We also make the same recommendation we have made to elected officials for the last three years which has not been followed: train and educate yourself because it is obvious you still do not understand you are the barrier to progress.

The two faces you have shown to the community are out for all to see and sows distrust in the AA community.

Don’t be another white man who talked the talk but did not walk the walk.

“When people show you who they are, believe them,” Maya Angelou

On behalf of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice Steering Committee,

Wanda Boyer Co-Chair, SACRJ
Arlene F. Lee Co-Chair, SACRJ




  1. A great letter, from two strong and smart women who have been dismissed and disregarded despite putting heart and soul, time and talent into making Chestertown a more equitable, just, and humane place for all to live.

    1. I ask if Mayor Cerino and Councilman Herz realize…and if they care…that public awareness is not blind to their actions and statements that damage and obstruct racial justice progress? There is a groundswell of good-hearted, smart and dedicated citizens who want Chestertown to become a kinder, inclusive and thriving town that is step-by-step building a present and future that intentionally dismantles racism.. This is the “Chestertown Unites Against Racism” that many of us are committed to. The examples of actions noted in the letter by Arlene Lee and Wanda Boyer Mayor don’t wash with the stated commitment of the Town Council. Get with the program men. History is still in the making. You can be instrumental for progress, or be impediments. You can learn so much more than you realize about ways be a force for change that’s needed. Take the training that the SACRJ has offered to co-fund. The Racial Equity Institute is a premier national organization for just what Chestertown needs…transformational understanding that can lead to effective elective officials and citizen involvement that together bring about needed change. Make choices that show us you’ll will work for all of us, not just some of us. Inclusivity for all of us, especially those who have been historically and presently continue to be severely marginalized, is our goal. This racial justice movement is here to stay. What legacy are you building for yourselves?

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