Editor's note: Shelley Brindle gave her first address as mayor of Westfield just after she was sworn in Jan. 1. Here, it is published in its entirety as submitted by Mayor Brindle.
Good afternoon everyone, and Happy New Year!
I am so grateful — and humbled — by the responsibility you have bestowed upon me as your new mayor. When I need inspiration, I will remember how you braved the cold today to attend this community celebration. I will also continue looking to my mom, Mary Ann Wright.
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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 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.
Today, my request of you is to get involved. Many of you have already begun.
Since opening our volunteer application process, we received 446 applications in two weeks to serve on existing boards and commissions! But we will need 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. Stay tuned.
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 Oliveira 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.
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 tomorrow.
And to those who planned and participated in this amazing event today: the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Reverend Mark Boyea, the Honorable Judge Greenaway, Mary Ruotolo, Sydney Stewart and the talented jazz band Dominant 7. Thank you.
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 got a little more than they bargained for with me as their mom.
To the sitting Councilpersons Frank Arena, Jo Ann Neylan, Mark LoGrippo and Doug Stokes, I’m eager to learn from you, and work alongside you.
And to the new Councilpersons Linda Habgood, Mike Dardia, David Contract and Dawn Mackey — I look forward to governing with you — so c’mon up!
I would not be up here today if it wasn’t for the collective effort of this group. We agreed that the best gift we could give to this community on a 15 degree day would be to limit the speeches, so on behalf of all of us, thank you for being here.
On this New Year’s Day, we ask you to make one more resolution — commit one volunteer action that serves our community. If we can harness 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!