The Westfield News is printing candidate profiles daily until Election Day, Nov. 5. All citizens are encouraged to vote. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you don’t know where to vote, visit cityofwestfield.org or contact the City Clerk’s Office at 413-572-6235.
Ward 1 City Council Incumbent
Name: Mary Ann Babinski
Address: 114 Rogers Ave.
What experience and qualifications do you have that would be an asset to the city:
I believe that my many years of experience, working in both the private and public sectors, have afforded me the opportunity to understand and relate to many of the issues facing the city and its citizens. I have been involved in a variety of problem-solving situations with a variety of individuals over the course of my careers and have experienced the benefits of working cooperatively to find solutions. For 23 years, I worked in public education, as a teacher, math department chairperson, advisor to student council and member of the contract negotiations team, to name a few of my many roles. I also hold a Masters degree in Educational Administration. While living in a neighboring community, I served as a Town Meeting member and served on the Cable Access Board. In the business sector, I worked for 24.75 years with companies across the country and abroad as a technical trainer, course developer, and application support engineer. As an involved citizen, I have spent time working extensively with local, state and regional organizations advocating for community and environmental justice issues. I was honored to serve for three years on the Executive Board of Alternatives for Community and the Environment (ACE).
Have you recently met with city department heads to discuss their needs/concerns/budgets and if so, which ones?
I have made it a point to participate in the Finance Committee’s budget department meetings. To understand the issues and needs, I also attend commission and board meetings that are attended or facilitated by department heads. Because of the water, road and traffic issues facing Ward 1, I have had to regularly interact with the DPW, engineering and police departments. It is an opportunity to hear from them directly about their needs, concerns and budget issues. As a ward councilor, I am continually challenged with issues brought by my constituents that require me to work with many of the city departments. To resolve these issues, I make it a point to reach out to the DPW, Water, Health, School, Police, IT, and Legal departments.
What is your main concern for your ward?
Protecting the natural resources and the quality of life of residents from overdevelopment are major concerns. I believe the resident’s concerns need to be a top priority and that they need to have a strong voice in decisions that impact their quality of life. Overdevelopment can negatively impact air and water quality, increase noise pollution, light pollution and contribute to excessive wear and tear on our roads. Ward 1 residents have been subjected to increased truck traffic that is now finding its way into residential areas. Responsible development is a top priority. We should be able to say no to any development that will negatively impact critical resources and people’s lives.
Why should residents vote for you?
For almost four years, I’ve worked to address the needs and concerns of Ward 1 residents as their councilor and for many years even before I became their councilor. I have tried to stay true to my promise to be responsive to their concerns and to be there for them when called upon. From road improvements to traffic issues; from noise mitigation to insuring the safety of our water with stronger aquifer protection; from budget decisions to transparency, I have supported and addressed resident’s concerns. I have been a strong, willing and present advocate at local government meetings to show support for residents who are there to voice their concerns.
What positive effect have you had on the city?
In my opinion, common sense, sensibility and civility can go a long way towards finding solutions. I believe that solving problems can work when we engage in positive, constructive dialog without pointing fingers and playing the blame game. The ability to listen and learn can help bring about positive benefits. The final vote doesn’t always go our way, but we can continue working together while advocating for what is important to protecting the quality of life of Westfield residents. Community building, where no one can do everything, but everyone can do something is important to me. I am thrilled when I can help a resident use their voice to express their concerns to city government.