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 incumbent Susan Hanly spoke with WestfordCAT, outlining her background, experience and aspirations if reelected to the committee.
Experience and Education
She received her bachelor’s degree at Boston College and her Master’s in Science and Nursing at Sacred Heart University. She is currently the school nurse at Stony Brook Middle School, but said she has announced her retirement from her position, effective in June.
Past/Present Municipal Experience
She has spent 13 years on the Board of Health. She also serves on the Town and School Safety Task Force.
Volunteer participation, community involvement
She is the former president of Westford Youth Basketball and is involved with St. Catherine’s of Alexandria church. She is also starting a group, 100 Women Who Care Westford, which plans to meet later this year.
What should voters know about you?
“I love this community, I’ve lived here a long time. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with youth programming, I am no longer going to be a school nurse as of June. I feel like I have more time to give back to the community than I did in the past,” she told WestfordCAT.
Hanly described her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, where she has presented across the state advocating for mental health awareness.
Hanly also noted that she is married with four children in Westford. “Family and faith are paramount to my life,” she said.
Why do you believe voters should choose you?
“We’re finally putting people in place that can be in service of mental health,” she said. “I just feel like the time is right to do more with the mental health needs of our children.”
“The harder decision was to say I still have more to give. The last few years have been all about COVID, so a lot of other things have been put on the back burner,” she said. “I still want to give back. Leaving school nursing doesn’t mean I’m leaving town.”
If elected, what impact do you hope to make?
“Let’s normalize mental health and the struggles,” she said.
“I’ve had this vision of introducing DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) in 6th grade, have them take it as part of their health curriculum,” she said. “If children are not in the place mentally to access the curriculum, it doesn’t matter how much time you have on learning. [We also need] more education for teachers and parents.”
She stressed her commitment to mindfulness and mental health for the town’s residents.