Meet Jody Hensley, candidate for Westborough School Committee
Westborough – The town of Westborough will be holding its Annual Town Election Tuesday, March 4. There are no contested races this year.
The Community Advocate has invited candidates for the School Committee to state their opinions on several issues in their own words. Jody Hensley is an incumbent, running for a three-year term.
Jody Hensley- Jody has served for one term on the Westborough School Committee. She served on the Supervision and Evaluation sub-committee which negotiated the new administrator and educator performance management system. She also sat on two contract negotiation teams, and the policy sub-committee. Previously she served on the Westborough Housing Partnership and was a member of school parent organizations at Armstrong, Mill Pond, Gibbons and Westborough High Schools. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Baker Square Condo Association in Boston from 2005-2011. Professionally she worked as a legislative liaison for the MA DEP, a senior trainer at The Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, and as Liaison for The Commonwealth Partnership between the UMass President’s Office and the Executive Office of Environmental (and Energy) Affairs.
1. What specific career or personal experience in your past do you feel prepares you for this position and why?
My past experience facilitating multi-stakeholder working groups – including government, industry, and community advocates – was good preparation. My work as a legislative liaison showed me how a state budget is put together line-by-line, and how interests represented through nearly 100 state agencies vie for resources to run important public programs. I understand that changing administrative priorities, and changing political realities, as reflected through state budgets, are a complex and often frustrating business. I also understand the wisdom of the great Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, who said “all politics is local.” It’s critical that we make decisions that are appropriate for our community and the people who live and work here each day.
2. If you could eliminate Proposition 2-1/2 would you? Why or why not?
Because Proposition 2- 1/2 is not going anywhere soon, I am reluctant to opine on a hypothetical question. (Proposition 2-1/2 was a ballot question passed in 1980 which limits an annual increase in local taxes rates to 2.5 percent.) This measure likely has served to make us work more diligently do the hard work of delivering responsible budgets while maintaining educational excellence in the Westborough Public School system.
3. What do you think is the most significant problem facing your community? What do you think should be done short-term and long-term to change it?
We are a growing and changing community. This is not necessarily a “problem”. I prefer to face it as a “challenge” and an “opportunity.” We have changing demographics — both culturally, socio-economically and in the needs of incoming students. From the point of view of the Westborough Schools, we have a growing and increasingly diverse student body. As ever, we will have to manage to maintain excellence and well-being of our student population while respecting the needs of the community as a whole. It’s important that we remain cohesive as a community and work together for a continuously better Westborough.
4. What person in your life has had the most impact on you and why?
I’m blessed to have wonderful mentors and role models in my life. But firstly, I have a great husband. We continue to challenge and support one another in a loving partnership of 25 years. I had a wonderful father who taught me well — a wise and well-loved servant leader and reminded me that “to whom much has been given, much will be expected.” My Mom, a Chicago native, raised seven well-adjusted children on a North Dakota farm with an uncommon combination grace and grit. My in-laws, Jillian and Peter Hensley, warm and welcoming Westborough residents for nearly 35 years, helped shape my experience here. Gina McCarthy, now head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Ken Geiser, Ph.D., who founded the Center for Cleaner Production at UMass Lowell, had a great and formative impact on my work as well as my husband’s.
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