2018 State of the Town Address

Good evening everyone, and Happy New Year!

I am so grateful - and humbled - by the responsibility this Town has bestowed upon me as your new Mayor. As you know, this is when I am scheduled to give the state of the Town address.

But having been in office for 24 hours, it would be presumptuous of me to speak in depth about the state of our Town, so I will instead reprise my remarks from yesterday, and maybe it will sound better a second time!

My mom, Mary Ann Wright, has served as my inspiration for being here tonight.

I was 6 years old when my dad was killed in Vietnam, leaving my mom to raise me and my sisters Sharon and Susie on her own.

She could have returned to the security and familiarity of her Pennsylvania hometown. But she didn't.

Instead, she moved the four of us across the country to an unfamiliar town in Virginia and reinvented herself as a single working mom. You see, my Mom has never feared change.

This has kept her vibrant and relevant in today's world, as well as connected to her grandkids. She has even been known to send a Snapchat or two!

These traits my mom exemplifies- resilience, optimism and curiosity- are the same ones I see in this community we all love. It's why I'm confident that together, we will successfully reinvent Westfield's future.

I have three priorities as Mayor:

First, instill a culture that inspires our residents to get involved, beginning right here. Town Hall should buzz with energy, enthusiasm and new ideas, a place that serves as the heartbeat of our community.

Secondly, improve communication with residents, streamline our bureaucracy, and remove barriers to attracting businesses.

Together, we will embrace a spirit of service, accountability, and innovation, especially in developing a new master plan for Westfield that will look to our Town's treasured past to inspire a new future.

And Third, broaden our community engagement by designating volunteers to reach out to all members of this community.

Many of us have stayed on the sidelines, either because we haven't been asked or assumed we weren't needed, leaving the hard work to a select few.

The result is a community that has yet to reach its fullest potential because we have not engaged everyone. We need every voice at the table to realize a vision where there is room for all.

Tonight, my request of everyone is to get involved. Most of you are here tonight because you already have.

Since opening our Volunteer Application Process, we received 446 applications in two weeks to serve on existing Boards and Commissions!
All of the new appointees participated in that process, which has resulted in even more experienced and diverse Boards that reflect our community.

We hope to get more of you to join us in order to make big things happen.

New volunteer opportunities will be announced in the weeks to come and there will be something for everyone; technology, events, promotions, master planning and more.

But in addition to your participation, I will also ask for your patience. Visible progress takes time - and yes, we will make mistakes along this journey. We must first work on laying the groundwork of trust and communication in order for real progress to emerge. I'll commit to always being transparent and open with you and expect you to hold me accountable.

I want to thank Mayor Andy Skibitsky for his leadership and years of service, and for the graciousness he has shown me during this transition.

Andy and his wife, Debbie, represent the best of our community, as do the outgoing Councilmen Sam Della Ferra, Ken Donnelly, David Oliviera and Keith Loughlin - all who have served selflessly on our behalf.

I look forward to working with our dedicated police, fire department, public works officials and Town employees, and am grateful for their continued service. They are indeed the folks that ensure a great quality of life for us all, regardless of who sits in these seats.

And thanks to the citizen volunteers, including those who have served on Town Boards and Commissions, and those who are being appointed for the first time tonight.

Lastly, and most importantly, I need to thank my husband Kip who has graciously and humorously accepted his role as Westfield's "First Dude" and my three kids - Grace, Nora and Nick - who had to listen to their mom yesterday in 15 degree weather and never uttered a complaint.

To the sitting Councilpersons Frank Arena, Jo Ann Neylan, Mark LoGrippo and Doug Stokes, I speak for myself and the newly elected Councilpersons Linda Habgood, Mike Dardia, David Contract and Dawn Mackey that we are eager to learn from you, and to work alongside you.

By working on behalf of our common interests in serving the community, and harnessing the collective efforts of every resident, there is nothing we won't be able to achieve together!

Thank you, and best wishes for a peaceful and joyful new year!