Friday, November 3, 2017

Franklin Candidate for Board of Health: Bridget Sweet

Bridget Sweet (BS) and I (FM) sat down at Panera Bread to talk about her candidacy for the Franklin (MA) Board of Health in the election scheduled for November 7, 2017.

FM: Tell me a bit about yourself, your family, and your life here in Franklin? What is your Franklin story?

I am originally from Dorchester but we moved here from Brockton about 4.5 years ago. I attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy and graduated with my degree in Marine Safety and Environmental Protection, where I also met my husband. We have four children Timothy, Devin, Cameron and Dillon. Lived in Brockton for over 10 years and moved to Franklin. Some of the challenges associated with living in an urban area began to outweigh the benefits and Franklin was the perfect fit. It was a feasible commute for Kevin in Maynard, who at the time was interviewing as the Town Administrator. He has been in Maynard for over 8 years, and the Town Administrator for over four.

The sense of community and neighborhood that we encountered here has been amazing. My kids are at Jefferson, Remington, and Franklin High. I can’t say enough about the Remington/Jefferson communities, it has been great. With four kids, we have been pretty involved with sports. The younger three have been in lacrosse and one also plays football with the Chargers. The majority of my interactions are through school or sports events.

This may have been your typical city to Franklin move. At first I couldn’t fall asleep at night as it was too quiet. It has been a learning curve but it definitely has been amazing. It has been really good for the kids, the weekend after we moved to town we had our first ever block party. The Recreation program that Franklin has is unbelievable compared to other communities, they offer a wide array of options that are fee based yet affordable.

The location of course is also key. When I traveled for Whole Foods, my base was at the Bellingham store but I could get to all the other MA stores and back within the day. This was ideal for my family life; not having to leave the kids for an extended overnight stay. Now that my kids are older, my youngest is eight,  I have some spare time … I guess more available time is the better way to say it. This past year I joined the Franklin Chargers Board. It was a good experience to support the program as they support the children in the community.

FM: What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

I’ve wanted to run for the Board of Health (BoH)since we moved here. I figure it may be a shot in the dark but if I don’t try, I may regret it. Public health is a challenging field to assess outcomes within, especially when there is a lack of understanding with what the department is tasked with. I think an additional challenge within Franklin is that the meetings are held during the work day. It is hard to engage community involvement as well as support local businesses if the meetings are held during the day. I believe that a potential challenge within the Franklin BoH will be how to handle the recreational marijuana and how this will impact public health, access, and food safety.

I believe that education and transparency are required to help guide public health within the community. Massachusetts is moving towards a more proactive model, not just relying on enforcement/regulatory actions to spur compliance. Massachusetts is in the midst of adopting updates to various regulations that directly impact the health department. Updates in the food regulation, housing regulation, camp regulation and pool regulation are imminent and it is imperative that the staff be up to speed on these changes so that they can educate and support local business to strive for compliance. I am a firm believer that the answer should not always be “NO”, but “how can we do this safely.”

I think that is the challenge coming into a Board like this. I don’t know everything. I don’t know what’s best. The first several months would be “What do I need to learn? How can I help?” I have all these ideas that are great on paper but until you’re there, they may not be transferable. That’s ok. I don’t have an ego, I just want to work to support the community and local public health.

FM: What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? What do you bring to the table that helps to set you apart from the others?

Franklin is fortunate to have a well-qualified staff. As a former local public health official, I understand the dynamic between the Board and the staff. I’d like to offer some innovative and alternative solutions so the Health Dept would still be meeting their minimum required standards but to also be stewards of the community. There is a wealth of expertise in this department that should be showcased. I bring various credentials to the table, and a wide variety of previous experience but I am cautious to lean too heavily on these. 

My role would not be that of the Health Director or Health Agent, but to serve on the Board in a support capacity. I bring my passion and my knowledge to help review policies and to support the staff as they continue to protect public health. I am well versed in the policy role having served on various task forces within the State of Rhode Island, as well as previously serving on the Massachusetts Health Officer Association Executive Board.

I really am excited about the opportunity to support the community in a field that I am so passionate about. I simply ask that when you cast your ballots next week you consider my name. I don’t have a specific reason as to why, but simply a general “why not”?

To follow up with Bridget directly you can reach her via email at

You can also find out more about her campaign at her Facebook page

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 7. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

Offer to Candidates 2017 

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