WESTFIELD – Following the Nov. 5 election, there will now be three women on the City Council out of 13 members, up from two the previous two years.
At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris was re-elected; and newcomers Kristen L. Mello, At-large, and Bridget Matthews-Kane, Ward 3, will all serve the City for the next two years. Ward 1 Councilor Mary Ann Babinski was defeated in her bid for a third term.
The Westfield News asked the women for their thoughts on their election, and on representing women on the City Council.
At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris:
“I sincerely thank the thousands of citizens who voted for me this election. Being the only woman At-large Councilor for these past six years reflects on our voters, who recognized the value I bring to the City Council in my business background as a Human Resource Consultant, understanding jobs, pay and what is necessary to run a good City, and as a former Assistant Assessor, understanding taxes, budgets, and real estate values. I truly care about all our citizens and City.
“It also says to all women – we can do it, and to men, it shows them that their daughters, sisters and mothers can have a strong voice in government.
“As a Gold Star Daughter, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all veterans and their families, and also thank those actively serving and their families, and thank our Police, Fire, and First Responders – heroes all! And to all our citizens, I appreciate you – your work ethic, your volunteerism, and your greatness which makes this a great City!”
At-large Councilor Kristen L. Mello:
“I am so very humbled and honored by the faith that Westfield voters have given me. I look forward to working with Mayor Humason, Council members, and city employees to bring the resources and responsible development Westfield needs.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be chosen as one of the few female voices to represent the people of Westfield. I hope to encourage more Westfield women to speak up about their concerns and engage with our city government, and am looking forward to working with Councilors Harris and Matthews-Kane to advocate on issues that can disproportionately affect the women and girls of Westfield.”
Ward 3 Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane:
“I am honored and excited to represent Ward 3 on the Westfield City Council and am looking forward to working together with the other councilors to make our city better.
“I am proud to be a woman serving on the council, and I’m glad that Westfield is continuing the nationwide and statewide trend of increased participation by women in government. Just as having ward councilors ensures geographic representation in our decision-making process, having people from a range of different backgrounds serving on council also allows various viewpoints and ideas into our discussions. Even greater representation of people from different backgrounds and genders is something to work towards in our city. We need a Westfield City Council that looks like Westfield.
“There are many ways to increase participation. I know I’ve benefited from the mentorship of strong women in my life. During my campaign, former city councilors who were women offered to support me, and I am incredibly grateful for their wisdom and time. They told me stories of how Barbara Swords mentored them, then they mentored me, and now I am hoping to pay that forward myself. People also need to push back on the idea that only certain types of people should serve in leadership positions. I’d like to encourage citizens who do not see people like themselves on the Council to consider running for office in the future.
“But right now, I’m looking forward to addressing the concerns of Ward 3. Door knocking gave me a sense of what the people in my ward want from the city. I think of myself not so much as a woman councilor as a Ward 3 councilor, and I plan to focus on the issues of Ward 3 during the next two years.”