We are highlighting examples of Black excellence throughout the year! Feel free to send us suggestions!
Ellisha Walker was elected to the Amherst Town Council and also serves as co-chair of the Community Responders for Equity, Safety & Service (CRESS), which was formed to create a civilian, unarmed alternative to calls that might otherwise require a response from the Police Department.
From Ellisha’s campaign website: https://www.ellishaforamherst.com/bio
I AM ELLISHA WALKER…
As a young person being educated in the Amherst Public School system, I gained an equity lens through my work on the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) and with the People of Color United group (POCU). I further developed my equity lens during my post-secondary education at UMass Amherst; because of accumulated lived experience as a Black woman and mother navigating resources, opportunities, and supports within the Town of Amherst, I have pursued a career of service. In my professional life, I work within the justice system serving community members facing housing insecurity and discrimination.
I am an advocate for racial justice, community engagement, and equitable opportunities for all Amherst residents, including BIPOC and other marginalized groups. I serve my larger community through my role as the co-chair of the Town of Amherst’s Community Safety Working Group–working towards equitable solutions to community safety and wellness through authentic community engagement, research, consultation, and innovative proposals to meet the needs of our entire community.
I will be a town councilor who listens, understands, and advocates for the needs of the community as identified by the community. I am committed to the good of our entire town, I will invest my time in engaging with community members where you are and through an equity lens, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.
I think our Town Council will benefit from having a Councilor who is a Black woman who grew up in Amherst and can be a voice for the BIPOC community. As an at-large Councilor, I will also take seriously my responsibility to serve all Amherst residents. I will seek to foster a sense of unity, vision, and shared purpose in our town and on the Town Council.
I work as an executive assistant and office manager at a law firm. My children, ages 5 and 10 attend Fort River elementary school while my 3 year old attends a local childcare center. In our spare time we try to get outside as much as possible. We frequent the groff park playground and enjoy exploring local trails; which is one of our favorite things about Amherst! I deeply value my children having a strong sense of self and having a connection in the environment in which they live.
WHY I WANT TO SERVE ON TOWN COUNCIL
I desire to leave a legacy of amplifying the voices of BIPOC, immigrant, low-income, first time home-buyer, and other traditionally marginalized community members who have long been disengaged by town government, but are most impacted by the decisions our council makes. This is precisely why I have chosen to run at large – because these marginalized communities exist in all corners of our town and these voices deserve authentic representation.I believe deeply in our community’s ability to build on the momentum of what is working for our town and to improve what is not working.
- Amherst must respond to the climate emergency by reducing our collective carbon footprint, especially in buildings and transportation, in ways that work for everyone.
- Amherst must invest in affordable housing initiatives to retain families and those facing housing insecurity.
- Amherst needs safety services that are tailored to meet various needs. We need preventative services, mental health and mediation responders who help people solve problems and access services, an adequately funded fire department, and a police department that is only deployed to situations that truly require police. This will mean a smaller police force, with more needs addressed by Community Responders for Equity, Safety, and Service (CRESS).
- Amherst must work to balance budget priorities by meeting the needs of the community as identified through authentic community engagement that allows all residents to access opportunities to provide input in the town budget process.
I love Amherst and am glad to have grown up and stayed here. At the same time I have personally experienced and witnessed countless racial inequities and obstacles here. Amherst has much to gain from making it possible for BIPOC community members to participate fully in the life of the town and provide leadership and new perspectives.
I know that if we work together, Amherst can be an equitable, anti-racist, and thriving town for all community members.