The sign tells voters the basics. PHOTO BY JOYCE PELLINO CRANE

VOTERS GUIDE: Candidates State Platforms for May 1 Election

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WestfordCAT has compiled a guide to inform voters about the candidate choices for the May 1 town election. Below each candidate provides a platform statement and explains why he or she is the best choice for the seat.

What is your platform and why are you the best person for the job?

BOARD OF HEALTH
One seat, three-year term

Joanne E. Belanger

Joanne E. Belanger. COURTESY PHOTO

Joanne E. Belanger. COURTESY PHOTO

I have been working for 30 years in the field of public health.  I have degrees in health administration, with a concentration in public administration, nursing and am a Registered Nurse.  Currently, I am the assistant director of Public Health for the town of Andover.  I currently serve on the Board of Health, filling a one year position but had served previously on the board for 12 years. I have in-depth knowledge, experience, and expertise in all aspects of public health; clinical, environmental and administrative, as well as in the laws and regulations regarding public health.

Public Health promotes healthy living and lifestyle choices, health promotion and prevention programs, and protection of the environment. The Westford community has embraced the Health Department’s pursuits to provide programming and policies to meet those needs and I will continue to support those efforts to protect and promote the health and wellness of the community.

BOARD OF SELECTMEN
One seat, three-year term

Mark D. Kost
(Incumbent)

Mark Kost on March 8, 2016

Mark Kost. FILE PHOTO

This would be my second term as a selectman.  I have been actively involved in Westford for 10 years, including; Finance Committee (chairman), Public Works Initiative Committee (Vvice-chairman), Healthy Lakes and Ponds, Capital Committee (chairman), and the Budget Solutions Task Force, among others. My undergraduate degree is in accounting and my master of business administration concentration was in finance, which has provided me 35 years of experience as a finance executive in a variety of companies and leadership roles, managing organizations of upwards of 500 professionals.

I have been consistent over the past 10 years in my efforts related to town government; efficiency of all departments while ensuring they have the resources required to provide continued excellent service to residents, proper prioritization of capital spending, fact-based decision-making and a no personal agenda focus. These will continue to be a focus, along with the newest task looking into how to best optimize private and public recreational resources in town. The focus will also be on ensuring our public buildings and grounds are properly maintained and managing, as best as possible, growth of resource requirements within the confines of revenues.

HOUSING AUTHORITY
One seat, five-year term

Editor’s note: There are no candidates for the seat that Corinne Ryan is vacating.

J.V. FLETCHER LIBRARY TRUSTEES 
two seats, three-year terms
Susan Flint
(Incumbent)

I am running for the position of J.V. Fletcher Library Trustee so that I can continue supporting the library and the library expansion. When our library construction grant is funded by the state, we will need the support of the town to utilize those funds for our library expansion. I have been a library trustee for the past 10 years, and I feel this experience will help me articulate why the library expansion is needed in Westford.

Our growing community needs an up-to-date library to support our programs and the needs of the community. The library expansion will allow us to have more meeting space, individual work spaces, computer access, and the ability to increase all our programming. The Fletcher Library is a vibrant hub of our community and with the needed expansion, it will continue to be so for years to come.

Marianne Fleckner
(Incumbent)

Editor’s note: This candidate did not respond to two emailed requests and a phone call for a platform statement and photo.

PLANNING BOARD
One seat, five-year term

Darrin Wizst
Editor’s note: This candidate did not respond to two emailed requests and a phone call for a platform statement and photo.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Three seats, three-year terms

Avery Adam
(Incumbent)

Avery Adam. COURTESY PHOTO

Avery Adam. COURTESY PHOTO

Westford has limited resources and the School Committee needs to look at all the spending options. I will continue to advocate for a school resource officer in every school.

Our security efforts need to include mental wellness. I applaud the addition of Challenge Success at the middle and high schools. I will advocate for the addition of such programs as “Say- Something” and “Start with Hello” from Sandy Hook Promise.

One of the most challenging and rewarding experiences over the past three years was my work on the Policy Sub-Committee. I did not shy away from difficult conversations. As part of the work we accomplished, I drafted the Religious Observations and Transgender policies.

I am vice-chairman of the Westford School Committee, a board member of Westford Cable Access TV, and a member of the Westford Dog Park Task Force. I also recently served as School Committee liaison to the Public Works Initiative Committee. Prior to joining the School Committee, I advocated for our schools as WEPTO president and as a member of the Full Day Kindergarten Citizens Action Committee.

Alicia D. Mallon

Alicia D. Mallon. COURTESY PHOTO

Alicia D. Mallon. COURTESY PHOTO

One year ago, I ran for School Committee while also serving on the steering committee for Westford for Equitable Teacher Pay. After our ballot initiative passed, the School Committee had an opening that required an appointment. In a joint 9 to 2 decision, the members of the committee and the Board of Selectmen entrusted me with that one year seat.

In the year since, I have committed fully to my office. I have never missed a meeting, actually asking to be added to a few, including the K-5 restructuring and redistricting meetings. As a parent of both neurotypical and neurodiverse children, I provide a voice for Special Education families in district discussions.  I have also voted for increased transparency in policy adoption and a budget that is both carefully considered and forward looking. Going forward, I support both an increase in school resource officers as well as additional support for our school counselors.

Christopher Sanders
(Incumbent)

Chris Sanders. COURTESY PHOTO

Chris Sanders. COURTESY PHOTO

My highest priority is that every student has equitable access to a high-quality education that fits his or her needs. Our children deserve an education that can’t be measured solely by MCAS scores, so I will advocate for curriculum and assessments that consider the whole child—their academic, physical, social, and emotional development. I will also prioritize continued innovation in our schools, with an emphasis on teaching 21st century skills, project-based learning initiatives, and strengthening our civics curriculum.

Finally, the long-term health of our schools requires responsible administration, which includes openness and accountability at all levels, fiscal prudence, and attracting top teacher talent.

In my first term on School Committee, I have chaired the policy subcommittee, instituted a committee planning retreat, and was involved in a number of community outreach initiatives around important issues such as school security, student social-emotional health (the Challenge Success program), and teacher pay equity.

Mingquan Zheng

Mingquan Zheng. COURTESY PHOTO

Mingquan Zheng. COURTESY PHOTO

During my tenure as principal of Chelmsford Chinese Language School, I had first-hand experience on school curriculum planning, budget management, and teacher training and student recruitment.

I also worked with Chelmsford Public Schools on facilities and school schedules and organized activities such as participating in the Chelmsford Annual Independence Day Parade. My daughter is a sixth-grade student at Stony Brook School and I am grateful for what Westford has offered to my family.

If elected, I would like to focus on four areas. First, our education system needs to adapt to a changing society to release the full potential of every student by integrating practical learning into education and addressing individual learning. Second, address issues related to school safety and students’ overall wellness. Third, collaborate with the entire School Committee and school administration on an open and responsible budget process. Lastly, help promote diversity and inclusiveness in our school system.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE
One seat, one-year term

Editor’s note: No one is running for the unexpired term of former School Committee member Tom Clay. Clay vacated his seat in 2017 when he was elected to the Board of Selectmen. Alicia Mallon, now a candidate for a three-year term on the School Committee, served in the position for one year as an appointee.