WESTFORD — WestfordCAT reached out to the five candidates running for two open School Committee 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.
School Committee hopeful Marisol Garcia spoke with WestfordCAT, outlining her background, experience and aspirations if elected to the committee.
Experience and Education
Garcia serves as an attorney and child advocate for 25 years. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology from Providence College, and holds a law degree from Northeastern University.
She has 25 years of experience in legal advocacy for children around mental health access and equitable educational outcomes. She is a senior director at Health Law Advocates, where she leads the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids, a statewide program she created.
She is currently a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health where she teaches graduate students about mental health advocacy. She previously taught undergraduates at University of Massachusetts Lowell.
“I am the first person in my family to go to college,” Garcia told WestfordCAT. It has opened a lot of doors for me.”
Past/Present Municipal Experience
N/A, but she clarified that much of the work involves working with the government, including legislation advocacy and grant writing.
Volunteer participation, community involvement
Garcia has volunteered with the Girl Scouts, and noted both of her daughters were involved with the organization.
Garcia has also volunteered at past Strawberry Festivals, Apple Blossom Festivals, and held fundraisers for St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
What should voters know about you?
“I think the most important thing is that I have 25 years of child advocacy legal experience. I also bring a fresh perspective with statewide knowledge in educational policy,” she said.
She continued, “my mother came from Cuba and my father from Uruguay. I have a deep commitment to DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] as a child of immigrants.”
Why do you believe voters should choose you?
“I think they should choose me because of my expertise and experience, my commitment to communication and experience managing complex budgets,” she said. “I have in-depth knowledge of special education law and statewide knowledge of education policy and a track record of ensuring high-quality education for all kids.”
If elected, what impact do you hope to make?
“There’s a lot of focus ringing the alarm bells on the mental health needs of children,” she said. “What I think we need to do is focus on how we’re going to address this increase in mental health needs. Kids who feel connected to their schools fare better.”
She continued, “I think that is telling us that we can make things better after COVID-19 and we need to make sure there is a provision of mental health support for kids in schools. With that, we’ll see terrific academic outcomes as well.”
Garcia also spoke on diversity, equity and inclusion, and how the committee can address ongoing concerns.
“Recent events in town really indicate that we need to heal and grow. I am the co-chair of a DEI committee that is looking at racism in the justice system,” she said. “So I have some expertise on how to lead our community through this process. I love Westford and want it to be the kind of place that is welcoming to everyone.”
Garcia also affirmed her commitment to transparency and fiscal responsibility.
“At the same time as we are focusing on terrific academic outcomes, we need to balance the budget, and make sure that we’re funding things that make sense,” she said. “All of this can be done with a commitment to communicate and to be transparent. I am committed to improving communication and collaboration with taxpayers and families in town.”
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