★ ABOUT LEN ★
Here is a list of some of the things that I have accomplished. In nearly every case, these accomplishments have been realized with the support of others or in support of others, and in many cases, the work goes on:
- Youth and Young Adult Advisory Board
In a highly collaborative manner, I worked with Town Meeting to create a study committee to create a way for Arlington youth and young adults to be more involved in town government. That committee decided on the structure and the name “Young Arlington Collaborative.” Instead of this being a committee created by the Select Board, it is a Board created by the Town and demonstrates that the Town, and not just the Select Board values the participation of its youth and the young adults in governance as well as the other elements of civic engagement and community building.
- New Town Moderator
I helped lead the effort to elect a new Town Moderator. It’s important for the Town to feel warm and welcoming at every level of government, including Town Meeting. Even though it seemed unlikely that change could occur, I felt it was important to make an earnest attempt to do so. Recognizing the risks that come with taking a stand of this nature, I nonetheless felt an obligation to work to make Town Meeting as inclusive an institution as possible.
- Envision Arlington’s Civic Engagement Group (CEG)
While still in the very early stages of its existence, I’ve worked with this group primarily to host a variety of workshops and forums (or “fora” for us Latin geeks) to address issues such as the development of warrant articles, reprecincting and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s MetroCommon 2050 Plan. The highlight was supporting Barbara Thornton with her development of the Broadway Corridor Design Competition (BCDC). From the ideas stimulated by the competition and the level of interest that it engendered, I think that the BCDC was a success. Also, as a regular participant in the CEG, I continue to organize precinct meetings twice a year under its auspices.
- Envision Arlington Standing Committee (EASC)
Due to the inability of EASC participants who had put together the Town Survey to continue doing so for the 2023 survey, I assisted two volunteers who offered to take on the task for the first time. I primarily functioned as facilitator and coordinator, but that was critical to pulling the survey together in a short period of time.
- Housing Production Plan 2.0
As the liaison from the Select Board, I worked with the Housing Plan Implementation Committee to create the second iteration of the town’s Housing Production Plan. As a member of the Select Board, I was pleased to give a vote of positive action for the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
- Real Estate Transfer Fee Coalition / Local Option for Housing Affordability
As a member of the Select Board, I was also pleased to support the Housing Plan Implementation Committee’s article to submit a Home Rule Petition to the state legislature that would allow Arlington to create, with the approval of its voters through a binding ballot referendum, a real estate transfer fee to generate funds for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. I now represent Arlington in the statewide effort to pass enabling legislation to allow each municipality to craft a real estate transfer fee that would suit its needs or those in its region.
- MBTA Advisory Board
As a community that is served by the MBTA and assessed a fee, Arlington has a seat on the MBTA’s Advisory Board, an entity created by the state legislature. I represent Arlington on that Board, and I am currently the Vice-Chair of its Rapid Transit Subcommittee.
- Arlington Housing Authority (AHA)
The Select Board is responsible for choosing the Tenant Member of the AHA Board of Directors. I was pleased to vote twice for Fiorella Baldini in order to increase diversity on the Board. At her young age, I accepted that others had more experience, but felt that her potential and her drive would serve the AHA Board and her community in Menotomy Manor well. It also signaled that the Select Board truly values inclusion and diversity.
- Election Modernization
I picked up where Joe Curro left off as the Select Board liaison to the Election Modernization Committee (EMC). I was pleased to work with the EMC to craft Home Rule Petitions for Ranked Choice Voting and Early Voting and then to recommend positive action on both of them to Town Meeting. With the passage of the Home Rule Petition for Early Voting, we will have early voting options for this upcoming town election.
- Virtual Town Meeting
I was instrumental in organizing and coordinating a myriad of elements that were required for us to conduct the first two Virtual Town Meetings. This required not only effective communication with each of the Town Meeting Members (TMM), but also with many members of the Town staff. It required lots of tracking and attention to detail to make sure that all TMMs had the information they needed in order to participate.
- Interim Town Manager
I led the process that ultimately resulted in the promotion of Sandy Pooler from Deputy Town Manager of Finance to Interim Town Manager. I felt that with Sandy in this position, we could maintain staff morale and a sense of continuity as we transition from having Adam Chapdelaine, our Town Manager for nearly 10 years, to a new Town Manager, who will emerge from our current search.
- Town Day 2022
I worked closely with fellow Select Board Member John Hurd and Deputy Town Manager Jim Feeney, along with numerous staff and volunteers on the Town Day Planning Committee, to organize Town Day 2022 which had been on a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Though John Hurd led the charge, I did much of the coordination, along with Jim and the available Select Board staff. Along with John Hurd and Jim Feeney, I advocated for making the event more inclusive and welcoming to more groups. In the process, I feel that we not only avoided unnecessary controversy, but we also gained from the participation of these groups in that the community was able to interact with more points of view.
- A Second Open Forum
In order to make Select Board meetings more effective, I added a second Open Forum at the end of the meeting. Not only does this give an additional opportunity for public input, but it also allows us to limit public comment to 30 minutes during the first Open Forum, thereby allowing the Select Board to deliberate on the entire agenda before the hour gets too late. So far, it seems to be a win-win for both the public and the Select Board.
In spearheading the effort to establish the Young Arlington Collaborative, Len demonstrated his deep commitment to ensuring that young people have a voice in our town. As a parent, I appreciate his strong leadership on behalf of youth and young adults.~ Christa Kelleher, TMM
Lenard Diggins was born in New Orleans in 1963 and moved to the Boston area in 1981. For most of the last 26 years, he has lived in Arlington with Jonathan, his partner of 28 years.
Since returning to Arlington in 2006, Len has become increasingly active and engaged in our community. Impressed with just how many Arlington residents are involved in leadership roles and how deeply they care about the future of this community, Len was inspired to run for — and win — a seat on Town Meeting, representing Precinct 3.
Len believes that a representative Town Meeting like Arlington’s is only truly representative if people connect with each other and share their ideas and concerns with those who represent them. He has strived to create more ways for residents and their Town Meeting Members to come together, working with Envision Arlington to organize community precinct meetings.
Additionally, he serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee, the Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee, and the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Action Plan Implementation Committee. He has chaired the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee and currently chairs (having been reelected three times) the Regional Transportation Advisory Council of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, which encompasses 97 cities and towns and oversees the programming of $2 billion of Federal transportation money.
Before his first term on the Select Board, Len was involved in our community in a variety of ways: recording nearly every Select Board meeting from 2014-2019 as an ACMi volunteer, creating a television series called “ART in Arlington,” and serving as a videographer for the Women’s Networking Group of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
Len’s formal college education was in biology. He has done research in population and evolution genetics, as well as neurodegeneration (Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases). He has produced, edited and/or engineered many video programs for various audiences, including K-12 children. In the early days of the Internet’s transition from a service restricted to educational and government institutions, Len worked for Software, Tool, & Die (a.k.a. “TheWorld”), the first commercial Internet service provider, where he performed technical support and systems administration. His skills include database management and robotic (small-instruments) programming. He currently works at MGH as a specialist in biomedical engineering, software, and operations.
Len is the quintessential “multipotentialite.” From his coding and research skills, he is able to break down problems into their constituent parts and then design tests with solid methodologies to provide data that can point toward solutions. His high school debate skills trained him early on in life to thoroughly understand all sides of an issue. His videography and editing skills have been avenues to exercise creativity.
All of these skills have served Len well as a member of the Arlington Select Board.