Candidates 2017

Based on our interaction with the candidates (via questionnaire, email and direct discussions, we have assigned a Grade of either A, B, C, F, or I (for incomplete).  Full explanations are below.

In Summary:

The following Candidates received a Grade of A.

Dennis Gavin, Board of Selectman – Grade A.
Susan McNeill Spuhler, Town Moderator – Grade A
Don Siriani, Town Moderator – Grade A

The following Candidates received a Grade of B.

Elizabeth Almeida, Board of Selectman – Grade B
George “Tom” Clay, Board of Selectman – Grade B
Gloria Miller, School Committee – Grade B
Dylan O’Connor, Planning Board – Grade B
Thomas Severo, Town Moderator – Grade B
Zac Cataldo, Board of Health – Grade B
Shunhe Xiong, Board of Health – Grade B

The following Candidates received a Grade of C

Alicia Curtin Mallon, School Committee – Grade C
Michele Pitoniak-Crawford, Board of Health – Grade C

The following candidates failed to respond to our questions:

Megan Eckroth, School Committee – Grade I
Gary Lavelle, Planning Board – Grade I
Thomas Spuhler, Planning Board – Grade I
Diane Holmes, Housing Authority – Grade I

 (For grade explanations and the details please read below.)

 Starting this year, we applied a letter grade to the various candidates. The letters are A, B, C, F, or I (Incomplete/Unavailable).

Grade A – The candidate fully supports the Second Amendment in word, deed, and/or takes a pro-active approach to demonstrating this.

Grade B – The candidate states that they fully support the second amendment, but no other evidence is available to show how they might act.

Grade C – The candidate has made remarks that Westford Pro 2A considers less than fully supportive of the Second Amendment, but we are unaware of any actions by the candidate to undermine the Second Amendment.

Grade F – The candidate has made actions to limit the Second Amendment rights of people.

Grade I – Incomplete or unavailable. The candidate did NOT respond to questions.

Board of Selectmen candidate(s) – Three-year term/two seats available

We asked two questions of the Candidates. (1) Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? (2) Do you believe that individual towns may place additional burdens on law-abiding firearms owners in addition to Federal and State Law?

Elizabeth Almeida – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Ms. Almeida to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “Yes”. Question 2: “I believe firearm regulations should be made at the state and federal level. Local firearm laws create confusion for gun owners and law enforcement.”

George “Tom” Clay – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Mr. Clay to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “As a former military officer I have extensive experience with firearms and responsible firearm use, both as part of the military and as a private citizen. I believe the Second Amendment confers an important individual right to be respected.” Question 2: “I do not think Westford should impose any additional restrictions on lawful firearms owners beyond what is required by the State and Federal government.

Dennis Galvin – Grade A
Summary: Mr. Galvin has been a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment for years. He has his LTC, is a member of the Westford Sportman’s Club, and has given numerous talks to organizations regarding the right to keep and bear arms. Both his words and actions combine to give him a Grade of A.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “YES- The US Constitution confers an individual right that needs to be respected.” Question 2: “NO – the town has no jurisdiction to circumvent existing federal and laws state by adding restrictions.”

 School Committee candidate(s) – Three-year term/two seats available

We asked two questions of the Candidates. (1) Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? (2) Do you believe in “age appropriate” firearms safety training (such as Eddie Eagle for young children and Home Firearms Safety for older students)?

Megan Eckroth – Grade I
We received no response from the candidate.

Alicia Curtin Mallon – Grade C
Summary: We are unaware of any actions (pro or negative) regarding the Second Amendment. One of her comments below, however, rated concern among our reviewers and prompted a Grade of C.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “While I do believe in the right to own firearms, I think it needs to be appropriate and well-regulated,with any and all safeguards in place to prevent firearms from being used by unwell, underage, or ill-intentioned people I grew up in a home with responsible gun ownership, and I do not believe schools are the place for them.” Question 2: I do think that age appropriate firearms safety should be taught to children, but I do not think it should be a stand alone curriculum. We currently have the A.L.I.C.E. drill curriculum in place in our school, and I believe that is the appropriate place for this discussion.

Gloria Miller – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Ms. Miller to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a gun owner but that is a personal choice, not a political one. Many residents of Westford are responsible gun owners and as an attorney and a fellow citizen, I respect their individual constitutional right to gun ownership.” Question 2: “This [meaning gun ownership] can however create safety issues in homes and with children, so I agree that it is only responsible for the schools to address gun awareness, just as the schools address other safety issues such as avoiding playing with matches or touching a downed power line, among a host of other safety issues. I am admittedly not familiar with the all of the details of the firearms safety training programs mentioned in your letter so I cannot specifically endorse those programs. I support the current weapons awareness curriculum in our schools, which I believe includes some aspects of the Eddie the Eagle program. My understanding is that this includes basic safety awareness of what to do if a child encounters a weapon unexpectedly — “Stop”, “Don’t Touch,” “leave the area” and “tell an adult” for younger children and also includes role playing exercises and other activities for older children.

 Planning Board candidate(s) – Five-year term/one seat available

We asked two questions of the candidates. 1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? 2. Do you believe that Shooting Ranges, which have lawfully operated for decades, should be forced to shut down when new neighborhoods are built nearby?

Dylan O’Connor – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Mr. O’Connor to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “Yes”. Question 2: I don’t feel that ANY business that is legally operating prior to new development should be forced to close or change its manner of operation, and this includes shooting ranges, so the answer to #2 is no.

 Three-year interim Planning Board term candidate(s) – Due to the resignation of Dennis Galvin from the Planning Board

Gary Lavelle – Grade I
Thomas Spuhler – Grade I

Town Moderator candidate(s) – Three-year term/one seat available

We asked two Questions of the Candidates. 1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? 2. Many law abiding firearms owners feel they are a persecuted minority, with people of power often attempting to infringe on their right to keep and bear arms. What statement could you make to address this concern?

Thomas Severo – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Mr. Severo to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: [See quote following Question 2.] Question 2: “Regarding both questions 1 and 2 I will say that, as a Moderator, I will remain completely neutral on all topics and keep my personal politics out of the debate. I would allow those on both sides of every issue, including gun control, equal time to present their opinions.”

Donald Siriani – Grade A
Summary: Mr. Siriani has stated plainly his support for the Second Amendment.  Also, as a legislative aid for State Senator Humason and State Senator Tarr, he has interacted back and forth with GOAL on pro Second Amendment Legislation. Both his words and actions combine to give him a Grade of A.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “Stated plainly, I unequivocally support the liberty and freedom for those to lawfully possess arms. As an elected official I have sworn to uphold the Constitutions of our nation and our state. As a private citizen I fully understand that our rights as citizens are fundamental to our democracy and society. I keep a copy of both the U.S. and the Massachusetts Constitutions on my work desk and on my home office desk as reminders of their significance.” Question 2: “I have been a student of history throughout my life. In my capacity as Legislative Director for Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr I am frequently analyzing state law, proposed legislation and the adherence of these to our Constitution. John Adams, the second President of the United States was the main author of the Massachusetts Constitution, the oldest constitution of any functioning government in the world today. He set out to frame the structure of our government by first articulating the we have fundamental rights as citizens; he laid out the arrangement of the Legislative, Judicial and Executive branches after affirming that rights come first and foremost.

Adams was disappointed that the drafters of the US Constitution, which was modeled after his, did not follow his lead by establishing our civil rights first. All citizens and elected officials should cherish our rights and act to preserve, protect, and defend all of them. My children are part of a family bloodline in Westford that dates to a time before the founding of our nation, our relatives fought for our independence beginning in Concord, others have served in other wars and conflicts, our rights and liberties were secured by people like- rights must be preserved.”

Susan McNeill Spuhler – Grade A
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Ms. Spuhler to undermine the Second Amendment. In addition, Ms. Spuhler proactively reached out to Westford Pro 2A to explain her strong belief that ALL points of view should be heard with respect. She also informed us that she proactively took a firearms safety course when she lived in Leominster. Both her words and actions combine to give her a Grade of A.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: Yes. Question 2: “everyone has a right to their opinion and stance on any issue. As Town Moderator I wil enforce those rights and the freedom of speech of all attendees at Town Meeting.”

Board of Health candidate(s) – Three-year term/two seats available

We asked the candidates two questions. 1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? 2. Do you believe that firearms are a public health issue to be regulated by Boards of Health and via a person’s primary care physician?

 Zac Cataldo – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Mr. Cataldo to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Question 2: “I do not believe that firearms are a public health issue to be regulated by Boards of Health or via a primary care physician.”

Michele Pitoniak-Crawford – Grade C

Summary: We are unaware of any actions (pro or negative) regarding the Second Amendment. One of her comments below, however, rated concern among our reviewers and prompted a Grade of C.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “I support the second amendment.  It is not in the general purview of the Board of Health to regulate the issuance of firearms.” Question 2: “The mission of the Westford Health Department / Board of Health is to achieve the highest level of wellness for all Westford residents and employees by reducing the incidence of illness and death. This is accomplished by assessing community needs, adopting and enforcing health regulations and implementing improved community strategies to provide affordable quality health care and preventative health programs and services. The Board of Health and Health Department do not regulate fire arms, however the Board could support community efforts to reduce gun violence. “

 One-year interim Board of Health term – Due to the resignation of Helen Fu from the Board of Health

 Joanne Belanger – Unknown. We were unable to contact Ms. Belanger.

Shunhe Xiong – Grade B
Summary: As of this writing, we are not aware of any actions taken by Mr. Xiong to undermine the Second Amendment.

Answers to questions (candidate’s own words). Question 1: “Yes, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I believe individuals have the undeniable right to bear arms.” Question 2: “No, I do not believe that firearm regulation is a public health issue. The Board of Health does not have the responsibility to regulate firearms. The current regulations on firearms and weapons are sufficient in my opinion.”

Housing Authority candidate(s) – Five-year term/one seat available

We asked two questions of the candidate. 1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected? 2. Do you believe that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” may be limited if they live in public housing?

Diane Holmes – Grade I