I am excited to announce my decision to run for re-election to Westfield’s Town Council.
My work on the Council over the last 3+ years has enabled me to play many impactful roles, and I look forward to continuing my work to make Westfield a better place—for everyone.
I ask for your support, and I share below just some of the work I have done and will continue to do as your Ward 1 Councilmember and Deputy Mayor.
I am the four-year Chair of the Finance Policy Committee and help craft the municipal budget alongside the Town Administrator and CFO. My unwavering pledge is to make your tax dollars work hard for you, not sitting idle in excess surplus amounts and earning low interest rates. Under my leadership, we have unlocked hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting idle in trust accounts, tapped close to $3 million in grant monies, doubled the interest rate paid on our savings, kept the average tax increase to 1.1% over 4 years, and initiated an annual public meeting to review how we performed against the budgets we passed.
As a fierce advocate for cost savings and shared services, I constantly question the status quo. This financial decision-making philosophy has allowed us to save money through partnerships with Elizabethtown Gas, contracting with a specialized company to provide school crossing guard services, leasing police vehicles and advocating for shared services in the Court and elsewhere.
When the pandemic hit, I was one of five leaders tapped by the Mayor to execute on the We Love Local strategy to help support our local businesses. I was integrally involved in raising close to $300K in eight weeks, and rapidly disbursing those funds in a fair and transparent way to more than 175 Westfield businesses.
I am Council Liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission. Over the past 4 years we have designated 6 properties (in the years 2010-2017 there were none), saving one home built in the 1700s from demolition by working with the owner to craft an outside-the-box solution. I helped draft changes to Westfield’s historic preservation ordinance to make it easier for owners of historic homes to comply, and to enable Westfield’s eligibility for greater grant dollars in the future. In addition, homeowners of designated homes can now receive tax abatements on the capital improvements to their properties.
I am the Co-Founder of the Westfield Mental Health Council. I sit on the Council and actively lead the sub-committee focused on driving Westfield’s commitment to being stigma-free. C.A.K.E., a phrase I coined, stands for Compassion, Acceptance, Kindness and Empathy, the behaviors encouraged as we shine a light on the importance of mental health awareness, and equality for all in our community.
I am a four-year and vocal voting member of the Planning Board and a member of the Site Plan Review Committee, ensuring that wise and future-minded decisions are made about sub-divisions and new construction.
I am the Founder of the Investment Advisory Council, a 9-person volunteer group, including 3 Westfield High School students, which assists the town in doing analysis and establishing smart long-term capital plans that impact budget decisions at every level.
I am a passionate member of the Stakeholder Committee for Redevelopment. For the past 32 years, my work in finance has been centered on financing smart and effective public/private partnerships. Every day I translate my professional expertise into my work in Westfield where we are using our stellar bond rating to proactively drive redevelopment and to diversify our sources of municipal revenue.
My commitment to making Westfield better is even stronger today than it was 4 years ago. When I ran for office in 2017, I knocked on every Ward 1 resident’s door because I believe that every voice matters; Finding common ground between people, while respecting their differences is a passion of mine. I am excited to further my work with the Brindle Administration, and, moreover, to be accountable to you. Today, I re-commit my promise to use my passion and skills to achieving our collective goals of smart fiscal management, environmentally sensitive preservation, and sound and effective redevelopment.
Linda S. Habgood
Ward 1 Councilmember