2015 Voters’ Guide Candidate Statements

2015 LWV Westford Voters’ Guide

Board of Selectmen

Mark Kost

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities?

I have over 25 years of successful experience in many business environments and a variety of leadership roles, including Chief Financial Officer.  Currently a startup company Principal Partner.  I have been a member of the Finance Committee since 2008, serving as Vice-Chairman and currently as Chairman.  I have been the Chairman of the Capital Planning Committee since its 2009 inception.  Currently a member of the Public Works Initiative Committee, the Storm-water Advisory Group and the Fresh Lakes and Ponds Initiative.  Served on the Budget Solutions Task Force and was involved in several vendor selection committees, along with providing input to many Town Boards and Committees.  I am President of a 262 unit Condominium Association in Chelmsford, and serve as a past President and long-standing member on the Lakeside Meadows Board of Trustees.  I have an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Michigan State University and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Under what conditions would you support a debt exclusion or override?

This is not a question that can be answered simply.  There are numerous factors that must be considered and vary depending upon what the debt exclusion or override would be for.  ALL trade-offs to avoid such a financial impact should be evaluated, debated and weighed against the reason for completing one.  With a budget that exceeds $100 million, there are always possible trade-offs and additional efficiencies to be evaluated, so the real question comes down to; are we willing to give something up to achieve the objective and avoid the option, or do we think that given the trade-offs, we would prefer to move forward with the debt exclusion or override?


Board of Health

Helen Fu

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking? Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities. 

I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, Chinese Herbalist and Nutritionist. Born and raised in China, I have studied Chinese Herbology, Acupuncture, Diet, Nutrition, Iridology, Kinesiology and Environmental Medicine in both the U.S. and China. I’m currently a naturopathic candidate studying for my doctor of Naturopathy degree.

As one of the few practitioners that truly understand and combine both Oriental and Western holistic healing, I specialize in Chinese medicine, emotional healing, herbs, diet and nutrition.

I’ve been an advocate and believer in community service, a director at Sustainable Westford and co-chair of Healthy Kids Coalition, working together with Westford Health Department and Board of School to provide health education to all the students, parents and the general public in Westford. I’m also the producer and host of TV show –Health Factor with Helen Fu, which provides wellness information and raises awareness about different health issues.

What are the greatest public health related issues facing Westford and how should the board address them?

Lyme disease is a growing problem! Last year alone we had 23 cases reported in Westford – and that is only the diagnosed cases!  Most people with Lyme disease don’t even know they have it.  It is estimated to affect 300,000 people a year in the United States, especially in New England. I recently did a TV show about Lyme disease to help educate the public.

Anxiety, stress and depression – in the Westford Public Schools the number of students with reported depression rose from 68 in 2013 to 168 in 2014.  Many more children and adults suffer silently without proper diagnosis and treatment. Last year I helped organize and presented in the East/West Depression workshop with great participation from residents.

More needs to be done to help people deal with these growing issues.  I believe Board of Health can lead Westford into a healthy community!


Library Trustees

Marianne C. Fleckner

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

I have been a Library Trustee since 2006 and have served as Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary over this 9 year period.  In addition to being a Library Trustee for the Westford J.V. Fletcher Library, I volunteered for a number of years in my hometown Library. I currently serve as the Trustee Liaison to the “Friends of the J.V. Fletcher Library”. As a Director of Human Resources for a nearby community, and having been in the Administration and Finance field for over thirty (30) years, I believe my work experience lends itself well to the responsibilities of a Library Trustee.  In addition, my undergraduate degree in Business Management is a strong foundation for the myriad business decisions the Trustees are required to make.

What is the trustees’ role in the library expansion project? 

The Library Trustees have played an active role in the quest to expand the current Library.  Most recently, within the past year, we have received funding at Annual Town Meeting for the J.V. Fletcher Library Feasibility Study. The results of this study will address the ability and need to maintain a flexible, state-of-the-art, community-responsive library.  Some of the goals are to: provide a larger, energizing Youth Services area that works for families; space for study, research and interaction; a conference area/lab; more relaxing and inviting seating and browsing areas; enhanced technology throughout; and, a preservation caliber local history space.  In addition, I am currently sitting on a Sub-Committee to hire an Operations Project Management Company that is required as part of the steps in an expansion project.

Library Trustees

Susan M. Flint

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

Having always loved reading and learning, I have admired and enjoyed the J.V. Fletcher Library since moving to Westford in 1976. I have been a:

  • Library Trustee since 2008
  • School Committee member for two terms
  • Westford Personnel Advisory Committee (PAC) member since 2006
  • Active member of the Friends of the JV Fletcher Library and have worked at our used book sales for over 10 years.

The J.V. Fletcher Library is an integral part of what makes Westford such a special community. I am proud to be an advocate for our library and would be honored to continue that role for another term.

What is the trustees’ role in the library expansion project? 

Trustees play a vital role in explaining the critical need and tremendous return of the library expansion to residents and town officials. I will continue to attend town committee meetings to support the library expansion. Our library is a vital asset of our town and must keep pace with Westford’s growth. The Trustees have a thorough understanding of current library needs and the value of this expansion project. I will continue to promote this project to the best of my ability.


Planning Board     

Dennis Galvin

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?

My background includes experience as a member of the Massachusetts State Police command staff, Director of Security for the Executive Office of Transportation, Project Manager directing the nuclear security force at the Seabrook Nuclear Plant.  In these roles I was required to develop and implement policy, conduct risk assessments on critical industrial and government sites, and ensure compliance with rules regulations and policy relating to state law, the Department of Homeland Security and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I have experience as a strategic planner. These skills are directly transferable to the Planning Board, which is tasked with assessing the land use and transportation needs of the town, developing appropriate policies and by-laws to address them, and ensuring compliance.

What lessons have you learned from the development at Cornerstone Square and Minot’s corner?

The lessons that I have learned from both these experiences are that members of the Planning Board must take a proactive role in establishing expectations with regard to large projects before they come to public hearing.   This will alert the developer to the concerns of the board members.  When this is not done, conflicts will result.  These can lead to delays and litigation.  Additionally, in any joint venture with the Mass Highway Department, members of the Planning Board cannot be shy about stating their expectations on road re-design.  Board members must aggressively advocate for the town.  If this is not done, concerns will be ignored.  Finally, Board members must always provide clarity for state or private interests, proposing large scale developments, so that there is never any doubt about the interests and priorities of the town.


School Committee

Avery Rockwell Adam

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

Since moving to Westford almost nine years ago, I have been involved in my daughters’ schools and activities. I have done everything from volunteering in the library to serving on the School Advisory Committee as a parent representative.

During the last year I have continued to invest my time in the schools with important new activities.  Last spring, I took over as President of the Westford Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (WEPTO) and have worked to revitalize and restructure this vital group.  WEPTO has been able to bring exciting Arts and Education Programs to all elementary students.

I was thrilled to join the Full Day Kindergarten Citizens Action Committee (CAC) at the beginning of the school year. Westford deserves full-day kindergarten and I was encouraged to have the School Committee revisit the issue. I ask for your vote so I can see this issue through to the end.

How would the Common Core standards improve Westford’s existing high performing school system?

Common Core standards consist of 3 key ideas- critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills.  It is important for school systems like Westford to have students ready to challenge the world upon graduation.  Today’s workforce demands highly skilled, diverse collaborators.

This year Westford’s elementary schools brought back the science fair after a year hiatus.  The new STEM fair is a great example of how an outstanding event can be updated.  The fair was expanded to include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The addition of Technology and Engineering is reflective of the world we live in and the demands that will be place on our students. I enjoyed seeing the innovation and creativity our students are so capable of generating.

Our Curriculum Coordinators and teachers want what is best for the students.  As with any new standard, staff must be given time to understand and incorporate the actions for it to be successful.

School Committee

Terence J. Ryan

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

I have served as a member of the Westford School Committee for the past three years. I also work at Alcatel-Lucent in Westford and have three children in Westford schools. As a School Committee member, I have worked to support teacher contracts, a new Technology Initiative and the construction of new bleachers at Westford Academy. Most importantly, I have been a fierce advocate for and worked with parents on individual and collective concerns to make improvements in our schools where improvements are needed. We have devoted, talented staff and administration. I have seen firsthand how working together can create change that directly benefits not only our children but the educators who dedicate their careers to our children.  I look forward to continuing advocating for our children, our schools and on important current topics such as Full Day Kindergarten, School Space Utilization and Common Core/PARCC implementation.

How would the Common Core standards improve Westford’s existing high performing school system?

In the past, MCAS has been the test method used by the State of MA for our students.  MCAS has provided us with useful, widespread, objective public data that has been used to “rank” school districts.  Westford has always performed well under MCAS as it tests solely on the content of material taught(the “what”).  Common Core Standards(PARCC Testing) will allow us to also assess students on “skills” and“ strategies” that have been incorporated into their education (the “how” and“ why”). With information so readily available in today’s information age, employers require and our children must be prepared to be creative, flexible, innovative, collaborative and able to have higher-order thinking skills; all areas that go beyond content but will be assessed under PARCC.  Some Westford students have participated in PARCC trial testing this year, and it will be interesting to see the strengths and weaknesses extrapolated from the data.

School Committee

Christopher Sanders

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

I’m a parent of a 3rd grader and a 6th grader in Westford, have spent many hours volunteering in our schools, and currently serve on the Blanchard School Advisory Council. Additionally, I have volunteered with a number of organizations in and around Westford. I’ve been a case reviewer for the state foster care system, working to help foster children thrive. Volunteering with a local Restorative Justice program, I work with teen offenders, encouraging them to think critically about how their crime has affected others, while helping them make amends and repair the harm they have done. I have served as a mediator in the courts, and will bring to School Committee my training and experience in helping opposing sides find common ground. I’m a member and active volunteer at First Parish Church in Westford. Lastly, my engineering background has fostered my deep respect for reason, process, and evidence-based decision making.

How would the Common Core standards improve Westford’s existing high performing school system?

My understanding is that Westford schools are already satisfying the Common Core standards, which seem to provide a reasonable set of ELA and mathematics guidelines and are informed by educational best practices. I don’t doubt that adopting the Common Core standards has yielded curriculum improvements. That said, we must be careful to strike the right balance between top-down educational systems and local autonomy. Our adherence to Common Core shouldn’t preclude us from asking important questions: Is our curriculum developmentally appropriate at all grade levels? Does it address the needs of all students? Does it give teachers enough flexibility? Does it address a range of educational outcomes (problem solving, critical thinking, curiosity, creativity, collaboration) beyond literacy and math skills? Are high-stakes standardized assessments interfering with actual instruction and causing anxiety for teachers and students? Exploring these types of questions can lead to continued improvements in our already high performing school system.

School Committee

Pranav Mulpur

How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking?  Please include your participation in any town or community-related activities.

As a current senior at WA, and a lifelong Westford student, I bring a fresh perspective to the policy-making process of our town’s School Committee. I personally have experienced what works and what needs to change. I will partner with other committee members to expand upon Westford’s excellent academic record, as well as drawing upon my own experience. I have volunteered over 200 hours at Westford Community Access Television helping create educational and current-event content for our town. I have also spent over 350 hours as a counselor, volunteering and working in the care and education of Westford students at Day School, Miller School, and the Westford Recreation Department. I founded the youth advocacy group, The Young Electorate, to encourage and lead young voters in political awareness and activism. If elected, I will ensure that the School Committee represents all voices of our educational community, including students, teachers, and parents.

How would the Common Core standards improve Westford’s existing high performing school system?

The Common Core serves three major purposes for the Westford Public School system. Firstly, it establishes clear and rigorous standards in reading, math, critical thinking, and problem solving, empowering teachers and administrators to expand upon our already strong curriculum. Secondly, it provides an emphasis in the development of career applicable skills, encouraging our district to explore more classes based in business and entrepreneurship. Finally, it develops a strong goal for this district to not only prepare its students for further education or careers, but also for their roles as responsible citizens, by emphasizing education in government and civics. By ensuring that our school prepares its students for the future and provides a healthy place for self-development, the Common Core aids in maintaining the strong tradition of excellence in the Westford Public School system.