WESTFORD — WestfordCAT reached out to the three candidates running for two open Board of Health seats in the May 3 Westford municipal elections. Candidates were asked the same outline of questions, and were free to share their replies during an interview with WestfordCAT.
Board of Health hopeful Melissa Mackey spoke with WestfordCAT, outlining her background, experience and aspirations if reelected to the committee.
Experience and Education
She has a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Medicine. She works for Lowell General Hospital as a clinical lab scientist. She is also a part time adjunct faculty at University of Massachusetts Lowell in biomedical and nutritional science.
Past/Present Municipal Experience
Volunteer participation, community involvement
She currently serves on the Nabnasset Parent Teacher Organization. She also serves on two school advisory councils, for both Nabnasset School and Abbot Elementary School. She is the current chair for the Special Education Parent advisory Council.
In addition, she served as part of a COVID advisory council for Westford Public Schools between 2020-2021.
“They have been a great opportunity to meet and work collaboratively to work for the betterment of our community. I really like doing this kind of stuff, and that’s what’s driven me to drive public office,” Mackey told WestfordCAT.
What should voters know about you?
“I have a commitment to driving healthy living by maximizing strategies for both physical and mental health strategies that help increase the overall health and well-being of Westford residents,” she said.
Mackey noted that experience as a veteran of the United States Air Force has been integral to her character.
“I’m a veteran of the air force, it gave me so much experience in integrity, teamwork and working with those from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “Those seven years in the military were fundamental to me and developed me as an adult. It gave me good solid foundations.”
Why do you believe voters should choose you?
“I would say for Westford right now it needs new voice, new perspective and diversity of experience to help bring something more,” she said. “I think boards are best served when they have a diverse background of experiences, like when new people come in there’s often new momentum.”
She continued, “I think people undervalue their experiences and how important bringing their perspectives to the table is. People should value their lived experiences, not just professional experiences, but also personal experiences.
Her experience, she believes, could add new momentum to the Board of Health.
“The last few years we’ve been so focused on infectious disease, so I feel someone who has worked in clinical hospital settings and their perspective is important to have at the table.”
If elected, what impact do you hope to make?
Mackey stressed the importance of physical health strategies and education to create a healthier community.
“When we talk about physical health, this comes things like healthy and affordable food options and tobacco and vaping free lifestyles, she said. “Promoting things like the community garden in Westford and getting that to the people that need it. I would also love to see subsidized gym memberships if that’s possible, and working collaboratively with the health clubs in town to have a workout week of sorts.”
She also emphasized the importance of tackling mental health and stress within the community, as well as providing equitable solutions to public health issues.
“For mental health strategies, how are we going to tackle the mental health issues we see? First is understanding we all have mental health, and getting people to resources and tools to help manage stress and anxiety in our lives.”
She continued, “Barriers for achieving this potential are often seen through socio-economic issues, race and ethnicity and disability,” she said. “We as a town would want to examine what, if any of those barriers we have in town and we’d want to reach out to and create strategies that work to overcome those barriers.”
Mackey also stressed the importance of communication within the board, by providing an easier way for community members to access town resources.
“I want to work on communication, I want the board to be a resource for members of the community,” she said. “We have a lot of great resources but I think they don’t know that they’re available.”
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