Name: Bridget Matthews-Kane
Address: 81 Court St, Westfield MA
Occupation: former college instructor
What experience and qualifications do you have that would be an asset to the city?
I grew up in Westfield, but in my twenties and thirties I lived up and down the East Coast, from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington D.C. I even lived for a year in Dublin and for three months in Beijing. I combine an insider knowledge of Westfield with the fresh perspective of someone who has lived in other parts of the country and the world.
I have a twenty-year background in education as both a teacher and a college instructor. During that time, I gained experience in public speaking and communication. While I was in graduate school earning my Masters and my PhD, I gained extensive research skills as well as the ability to reason and problem solve. Most recently, I’ve worked as a grassroots organizer in Ward Three on zoning issues. This experience further solidified my skills as a community organizer and my ability to manage a group of people working towards a common goal.
Have you recently met with city department heads to discuss their needs/concerns/budgets and if so, which ones?
I have had many informal conversations with people in Westfield government, and I have an appointment with the Water Department this week. Additionally, I recognize there are multiple stakeholders outside government as well, so I have plans to meet with Rob Levesque, Senior Planning Manager, and Mike Knapik, Vice President of Government & Community Relations at Baystate Medical Center, for continuing discussions on the Hospital Zone. I see the future growth and improvement of Westfield as a team effort, and I am looking forward to working with and listening to everyone.
What is your main concern for your ward?
Don’t make me pick just one! Over the past few months, I’ve been focused on meeting the residents of Ward 3. While knocking on hundreds of doors, I’ve heard residents raise concerns about speeding, clean living houses, off-campus college housing, road drainage issues, Grandmother’s Garden, access to Whip City Fiber, and, of course, potholes. I share their concerns. I am also interested in increasing tree planting in the ward, enhancing the ward’s parks, maintaining the character of our historic neighborhoods, and increasing access to public and alternative transportation. I would also like to see the Baystate Noble Hospital rezoning brought to a conclusion with a zone change that allows the hospital to grow while simultaneously protecting the neighborhood and the city. I also recognize that my job as a City Councilor is not just to advocate for Ward Three but to make informed decision for the city as a whole. My goal is that we have strategic growth while at the same time maintaining the character of the city we love. We have so many strengths – I want to capitalize on them.
Why should residents vote for you?
I am dedicated and thoughtful, and I come at city government from a good place with good intentions. I have a demonstrated ability as a civil consensus builder. An optimist, I believe most people have good intentions and I want to harness this to create solutions that work for all citizens. I have already proven that I am willing to advocate for the ward with my work around zoning issues. I love this area of town and want to make sure it remains a wonderful place to live for future generations. I see residents not just voting for me but voting for a future that includes all voices, civil discourse, and a focus on planning the future while protecting what makes us special.
What prompted you to run for election?
Since I moved back to Westfield, I’ve been involved in a number of zoning issues in my ward, from the BID to the Court Street Mixed Residence/Business District. In the past two years, I have been heavily involved in the Baystate Noble Hospital rezoning issue. When I realized the original Hospital Zone would reduce the neighborhood’s ability to have a voice in changes, I worked as an advocate for the ward. Uniting with my fellow Ward 3 citizens, I wrote a petition, gathered signatures, and organized a group to speak at City Council meetings. We were able to compel a revision to the Hospital Zone. The newest document is an improvement, but still leaves the city without enough of a check on the hospital’s ability to make unilateral decisions and limit citizens’ voices. I am still advocating that the hospital must have a Special Permit Process for major changes and projects. I look forward to working with the hospital to produce a zone change that will allow the hospital to evolve while still protecting the neighborhood and the city. When I was advocating on this issue, I realized how much I enjoyed working together with the residents of Ward 3 to improve our community. I recognized that I could be a valuable asset to the city with my ability to bring people together for a common goal, and I would like to bring these talents to a seat on the Westfield City Council.