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With more than 100 signatures collected, Dr. Shunhe Xiong is a certified candidate for the one-year seat on the Board of Health in Westford’s town-wide election.
The seat was vacated by Helen Fu in February for personal reasons. Xiong is one of two certified candidates for the seat. Joanne Belanger, appointed by Board members to fill the post until the May election, is also a certified candidate.
At a gathering of the Westford Chinese Community at the J. V. Fletcher library, on March 4, Xiong discussed his decision to run for the position with more than 30 voters and said he was encouraged by strong support.
“My family and I deeply appreciate the healthy environment that Westford provides to its residents. But I do not take it for granted. I believe that maintaining a healthy environment takes hard work and sometimes a tough fight, and we, as residents of Westford, are obligated to make our hometown a better place to live.” said Xiong.
As an engineer with 26 years of experience, Xiong said he will bring his unique background and expertise to the Board of Health. He said he has rigorous training and broad knowledge base in science. According to Xiong, through his professional experience, including his work auditing more than 100 factories for quality and environmental compliance with the ISO standards, he has gained in-depth understanding of the environmental impact of manufacturing industries and operations. He said his experience and expertise will be complementary to the other board members and he expressed enthusiasm over the opportunity to serve the town of Westford.
Xiong was born in China and came to the United States to pursue his doctoral degree. He holds a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering and a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering.
He has lived in Westford for 10 years, with a daughter who is a Westford Academy graduate, now attending college, and a son who is a freshman at WA.
Representing almost 7 percent of the population in Westford, according to the 2015 U.S. Census, the Asian community in Westford was awakened by a controversy over a Board of Selectmen settlement with a Nashua businessman who is planning to build an asphalt plant in town.
Communicating through social media, the Chinese residents were a visible symbol of resistance of the agreement at public hearings and demonstrations. At least two appeals of the settlement are pending.
The Board of Health is the watchdog agency charged with monitoring Newport Materials at 540 Groton Road, where owner Richard DeFelice plans to build his asphalt plant.