2013 LWV Westford Voters’ Guide
Board of Selectmen – Scott Hazelton
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 on the Westford Housing Authority and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). I know the challenge of state mandates, but also the quality of our town staff and the importance of working with other boards, agencies and even towns to accomplish goals. The Villages at Mystery Spring and our coming Veterans Housing succeeded due to federal, state and town assistance as well as expertise from Chelmsford.
The CPC begins its annual deliberations with a needs assessment hearing where all applicable departments and boards are invited to explain their capital needs. I understand the importance of listening to our citizens, and the variety of needs that the town has. In many years, we are constrained by funds available, and I have the experience of working with sometimes competing interests to amicably arrive at a solution that is fair and in the best interests of Westford.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? I am an economist and understand business and consumer finances. I guide companies through evolving economic climates to allow them to make informed decisions on staffing, investment and production. Project success is a function of learning the client’s business, assembling all available information and engaging in careful analysis. It also involves developing alternative scenarios to anticipate other outcomes. This skill set would be directly applicable to town budgeting.
I have served as a firefighter/EMT, and understand the skills and tools that our public safety professionals need. As Selectman, those that keep us safe will have my complete support.
I enjoy working on a team to get results. Whether it be organizing a scouting unit in my personal life or a project team in my professional life, I strive to be inclusive, let people work to their talents and make sure everyone shares in a success.
What would be your top three priorities as a Selectmen and how would you work with other board members to achieve these goals? The top priority will be to deliver the highest quality town and school services in a cost effective manner in a challenging economic environment. The Selectmen will need to work with our Economic Development Committee to expand and diversify our tax base and employment opportunities, with the Capital Planning and Community Preservation Committees to coordinate funding capital needs and with the Town Manager, the Finance Committee and town department heads to clearly prioritize needs and assess potential efficiencies.
A second priority will be preserving the character of Westford. This entails working with the relevant boards and committees to identify priority open space, protect our historic structures, develop new recreational opportunities for our citizens and plan for the type of development that we want.
A third priority will be integrating information technology and energy efficiency to make our staff and teachers more effective and our structures less expensive to maintain.
Board of Selectmen – James Jarvie
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 an accomplished business professional with a broad range of experience in procurement, contracts, and management. I have a proven track record for developing and establishing programs that meet cost reduction objectives, and implementing systems to increase efficiency. My philosophy is centered on two core principles, “affordability” and “value.” Each investment and budgetary decision we make must require thoughtful analysis that addresses these two principles. I believe that my professional experience, coupled with my passion for public service, will enable me to be a highly effective member of the Board of Selectmen.
I am currently a member of Westford’s Energy Committee and assistant coach of my son’s youth baseball team. Prior to moving to Westford, I volunteered as an Auxiliary Police Officer, served in the military, and have been active in school fundraisers.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? I am a strategic-minded business professional with proven ability to save money and improve performance for corporations. I am a skilled relationship builder, change agent, and negotiator, able to lead cross functional teams focused on desirable outcomes. I will take a solutions driven, collaborative approach to the challenges facing Westford. I will also bring a passion for public service that has been growing for years. I enlisted in the military out of a desire to serve a cause much greater than myself. I also volunteered as an Auxiliary Police Officer and gained valuable knowledge and appreciation for law enforcement and other public safety professionals and their service to the community. I am now serving on Westford’s Energy Committee working to identify programs and equipment to encourage and achieve energy efficiency and conservation. Public service is an honor and a privilege and I’ll work hard to earn your trust and respect.
What would be your top three priorities as a Selectmen and how would you work with other board members to achieve these goals? Throughout my career, I have worked to build relationships and seek out and consider the opinions and perspectives of others. I will work to foster better communication and collaborative relationships between town committees, citizens, and the business community in finding solutions to our financial pressures, while maintaining Westford’s high standards for delivering services.
If I am elected, my top three priorities will be: (1) Work with the Town Manager, Town Committees, and all available resources, to continue to find innovative solutions that enable us to deliver valuable services efficiently and cost effectively; (2) Maintain Westford’s commitment to providing our children with a high quality education, free from the damaging influence of drugs, alcohol, and violence. My young son is in the school system, so this is personal for me; (3) Bring sensitivity to the financial pressures facing all Westford’s citizens, but particularly our seniors, and others on fixed incomes.
Board of Selectmen – Robert Jefferies
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 business owner for twenty seven years and a public servant for the past 30 years in Westford I have the background necessary to stabilize finances and maintain the safe and prosperous community we all share. I have served on the Board of Selectman, Planning Board, Historic Commission, Permanent School Building Committee, Master Plan Committee, Commission for Efficient Town Government, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments, Highway Garage Building Committee, and the Unaccepted Roads Committee. This breadth of service provides the knowledge base of how the Town functions. Functional knowledge furnishes the underpinning for implementing the Vision of the Town expressed in our master plan. Financing the vision without straining the taxpayer is required for implementation. In my fifteen years as a selectman we have had only one operational override and the tax rate this year is lower than the rate when I first took office in 1998.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? I bring government experience and knowledge with a drive for innovative solutions to the Board of Selectmen. My ability to build consensus around a common vision creates the basis for progressive and creative solutions for our community goals. Consensus is not always easy but it is a fundamental requirement in a direct democracy that is Town Meeting. I have found that the fair solution prevails at town meeting and finding that fairness is the path to consensus.
What would be your top three priorities as a Selectmen and how would you work with other board members to achieve these goals? Stabilizing Town finances is a first priority. The Town’s staff and committees have built a consensus opinion and approach to maintaining services that the town has come to enjoy. This agreement, although hard to build given the poor performance of the economy, has been effective.
Strengthening our public safety departments is crucial to the Town’s continuing success. We must provide the personnel necessary and a supporting infrastructure for all of the Public Safety departments. Our expansion of the ambulance service to paramedics level and financing through an enterprise structure is an example of innovative approaches to achieve this priority.
Westford is a community where one of every four citizens is enrolled in our public schools. We rank below the State average in expenditure per pupil and at the very top in measured student performance. We must all strive to enhance where we can the learning experience of every child.
Board of Selectmen – Andrea Peraner-Sweet
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 actively involved in Town government for almost twenty years, starting with the Stop Wal-Mart Committee in 1994. For thirteen years, I was a member of the Planning Board, 6 as Chair. I am currently on the Board of Selectmen (past chair), Chair of the Budget Solutions Task Force and serve on the Economic Development Committee. I have served on the following committees over the last 20 years: Stony Brook Master Plan Committee, Chair; Stepinski Land Acquisition Committee, Co-Chair; Community Preservation Committee; Affordable Housing Committee, Co-Chair; Master Plan Committee, Master Plan Implementation Committee, and the Permanent School Building Committee.
As a practicing attorney for 25 years and a former social worker, I bring my listening, mediating and negotiating skills to reach practical and workable solutions. I have a demonstrated track record of working with people to successfully achieve a common goal.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? I believe that I bring experience, leadership and the ability to foster collaboration and build consensus. I encourage open and frank discussion and am willing to listen and to consider ideas and suggestions from all sources. I have a proven track record of working with other boards, committees, Town departments and employees and, most importantly, the residents of Westford to find solutions to common problems and to reach shared goals. As Chair of the Stony Brook Master Plan, I over saw the creation of a multi-use, complementary development that includes the Stony Brook Middle School, a 15-unit housing development, recreational fields, 19 acres of conservation land and 45 acres preserved for water resource protection.
I bring a dedication and commitment to preserving what is best in our Town while at the same time encouraging innovation and creativity to meet future challenges.
What would be your top three priorities as a Selectmen and how would you work with other board members to achieve these goals? Westford’s fiscal outlook remains my top priority. We have an inherent structural deficit that we must address. I am committed to maintaining the high quality of Westford’s schools. We must equip our students with the skills and knowledge to meet the challenges ahead. I will also continue to explore ways to attract appropriate business opportunities, such as Red Hat and Goodrich/UTC, to Westford.
Achieving these goals requires collaboration and openness to new ideas. I have a proven track record of bringing all stakeholders to the table and successfully developing solutions. Most recently, as Chair of the Budget Solutions Task Force, I work with various town committees, staff and citizens to develop pro-active fiscal recommendations.
We need to continue to work together as a town. It is only together that we can face our challenges and develop successful solutions for the future.
I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday, April 30th.
Board of Health – Susan M. Hanly
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 graduated from Boston College School of Nursing in 1986 and worked as a visiting nurse for many years before becoming a school nurse here in Westford 13 years ago. I work at Stony Brook Middle School and have been the nurse there since it opened. I am also the President of Westford Youth Basketball in Westford, a member of the Medical reserve corp, involved in a lot of education around mental health issues and have been on the Board of Health for the past 4 years.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? The responsibility of a Board of Health member is to protect the public health of the members of the community. As a medical professional, I am knowledgable about current health issues and concerns. I also work very closely with the health department in my role as a school nurse. Communication skills-including good listening skills-and collaboration are necessary if you are going to be an effective Board Member. I think I have demonstrated those attributes over the years I have been on the Board as well as the President of Westford Youth Basketball.
What are the greatest public health related issues facing Westford and how should the board address them? I believe that the greatest health issues facing Westford and all communities are related to mental health. Westford has faced a great deal of pain over the past few years with domestic violence tragedies. I am proud that A Coalition have been put in place to brainstorm around ways to support community members. I am grateful that as part of the Health Dept, we have a Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator. I do believe that substance abuse and domestic violence are the result of mental health illnesses. As a board, we have already begun to discuss services we can provide in town for children, teenagers and adults who are struggling as well as their family members. I am looking forward to implementing services we have discussed.
Board of Health – Jillian Lee Lokere
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’ve served on the Westford Board of Health for the past three years, a position which I have found immensely rewarding. My professional background as a geneticist and medical writer has been very helpful during my time with the Board.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? Serving on the Board of Health has certainly been very eye-opening for me. Living in town, I thought I understood what the Board was responsible for, but I was wrong! I have learned so much during the past three years, from state and local septic, well water, hazardous waste, noise pollution, and environmental pollution regulations to the complexities of major public health concerns such as mosquito-borne illness, food safety, and tobacco regulation. I look forward to building on and expanding this knowledge base during another term. I’ve also greatly enjoyed listening to the people of Westford and knowing that I can help take action upon their concerns, which I also look forward to continuing to do.
What are the greatest public health related issues facing Westford and how should the board address them? Current pressing public health issues that the Board is proactively addressing include more comprehensive licensing and regulation of local commercial enterprises that may handle potentially hazardous chemicals or substances; updating and revising local well regulations to incorporate new technologies and to regulate any situations with potential for cross-contamination with non-potable water sources; working closely with the Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne illness to Westford residents this summer; educating residents in personal and landscape tick control practices to minimize the risk of Lyme disease; and continuing to implement state and federal healthy eating and “Let’s Move!” initiatives.
Housing Authority – Janet Berube
No response received.
Library Trustees – Kathleen Canavan
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 actively serving the Westford community for a number of years. My love of public buildings and the democratic process has inspired me to become involved in community government, and thus the position of Library Trustee. I can contribute knowledge in the areas of planning and design, due to my professional background in Architecture. I currently serve as Vice Chair of the Town Energy Committee. Over the past two years, I have coordinated with the Library Director to implement energy efficiency upgrades. This project experience has heightened my awareness of the central role the library plays in our community.
Additionally, I am the Westford Representative on the Energy Advisory Committee for the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments. I am also an active volunteer for the Recycling Commission and have served Westford’s public schools on a number of ad-hoc committees.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? As a resident of Westford for 18 years, my family and I have frequented the library on many occasions. We have experienced firsthand the evolutionary demand of its patrons and the need to provide educational and recreational resources to multiple generations.
My interpersonal skills will facilitate my ability to collaborate with the Library Director and Board of Trustees. I will communicate with internal and external parties and diverse groups to implement policies and programs that serve the needs of the general public. Due to my expertise in energy efficient building design, I have developed an interest in sustainable policies and will strongly advocate for energy saving opportunities. And as a project manager, I am well versed in multi-tasking and have experience in the planning, budgeting and scheduling of construction projects.
Given the library’s limited space and budget how can the library meet the changing needs of our community? The town is facing a budget deficient in the next few years – a challenge which will directly impact the library’s ability to grow. The best solution to address these budgetary constraints and space limitations is to implement the strategic planning goals as set forth by the Trustees.
The Boards should evaluate the spatial limitations facing the library today, and plan for future expansion. We have seen an increase in library usage because of the economic downturn: our duty to patrons should prioritize programs which provide free access to computers and Wi-Fi, study spaces for students, educational programs and electronic media for recreational readers.
I will encourage efforts to find grants and funding opportunities and to continue to support the inter-library loan program, to assure the availability of resources to all residents. Lastly, I will look for opportunities to make the library more energy efficient, which will reduce electricity costs.
Library Trustees – Elizabeth S. Diercks
How is your background related to the board position that you are seeking? Please include your participation in any town or community related activities. Beginning with an appointment to the board in June 2006, I have continued to serve on the Board of Library Trustees through election in 2007 to the current year. I am also a school library teacher/librarian in both the Robinson and Crisafulli Schools in the Westford Public Schools. This background of membership on the Board and work in the schools provides the opportunity to collaboratively bridge the public library setting with the needs of the school community of students, parents, and teachers. This is important because I have learned that some school and public libraries feel more of a competition rather than the collaboration for which Westford is strong.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? Because of my public school library work and my current membership on the Board, I am aware of the many changes to books and reading in this digital age. Patrons get and use information for everything from education to personal enjoyment through the public library setting. Therefore, patrons are now looking for both downloadable as well as hardcopy materials. However, many of the major publishers are not willing to allow libraries to purchase, license, and then lend e-books. This will continue to be a challenge for the public library to provide an e-book collection.
Libraries must evolve with the times, and the JV Fletcher library is addressing this as we explore various digital age options: downloadable materials, streaming collections, and various Apps for reading through the public library. I am ready to apply my skills, knowledge, and ideas to the Board for this exciting time of change.
Given the library’s limited space and budget how can the library meet the changing needs of our community? Yes, the 21st century needs of the growing Westford community are stretching the space and budget of the JV Fletcher library. To address this the library has already been on a 5-year improvement plan. To maximize the space, the following items have been part of this project: reorganization to make room for additional shelving, relocation of various collections, and the upgrading of carpeting, painting, and furnishings throughout.
This improvement provided an upgrade to move the library forward toward the next 7-10 year journey. The expansion planning has already included meeting with the Permanent Building Committee to begin the process, acquisition of municipal funds at Town Meeting 2012 to assess the needs, and preparation to apply for the next Public Library Construction Grant round in either 2016 or 2017. This will support the budget needed to change and expand.
Planning Board – Darrin Wizst
No response received.
School Committee – Arthur F. Benoit
No response received.
School Committee – George Thomas Clay
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 father of three girls in the Westford public school system. Next year my wife Sara and I will have daughters in first grade, middle school and Westford Academy. I have served in a variety of leadership positions at First Parish Church and as a soccer coach in Westford Youth Soccer.
What are the most important attributes, skills and knowledge that you will bring to this position? I am CEO of a local technology company and a former US Army Ranger with a long passion for excellence in public education. I have participated in a number of workshops focusing on the future of public education and was recently appointed by Governor Patrick to serve as a Trustee in the Massachusetts Community College system. I have been attending Westford school committee meetings and I hope to bring my commitment and energy to the School Committee of the Westford Public Schools.
What are the major challenges facing the Westford schools and how should the School Committee act on them? Westford schools are excellent. I’d like to make sure we are all aligned on what directly drives student success and ensure that 80%+ of our effort is focused in these areas. The demands on our teachers and students keep growing – we must support what drives student success and help limit other programs and distractions.
Westford is 45th from the bottom out of 329 school districts in the Commonwealth on spending per student. I feel that we need to decide whether top level performance at well below average investment is truly sustainable. I’d like to help facilitate that conversation and propose that we have 15-20 open meetings spread through our neighborhoods over the next year.
Innovation and technology proficiency are critical for our students. I would like to see our schools have a well-defined technology strategy that meets the needs of the future and has been carefully integrated into our plans.