STATE REP RACE Q&A: Judy O’Connell Discusses What She’ll Do To Support Police, Fire & Veterans If Elected

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).

Below, in her own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Judy O’Connell (D-Wilmington).

#15) What you will do at the State House to ensure that our local police and fire departments have what they need to adequately protect us? Do you support a fire substation in North Wilmington? Did you/do you support the construction of the new center fire station in Tewksbury that was approved last year?

I have and continue to be supportive of our local police and fire departments. As a taxpayer and prior member of the Wilmington Board of Selectmen, I have supported collective bargaining contracts, capital improvement expenditures and training for both departments throughout the years. As a future State Representative, I will continue to support the public safety officials of the 19th Middlesex District in any manner possible through state funding and programs that will ensure at the end of their shifts our public safety officials have the greatest chance of going home to their families safely. It has been an absolute travesty regarding the increase in police officers being shot and injured and in some cases killed. I would support state legislation that is focused on protecting the men and women who serve and protect us every day in our communities. For both police and fire, I would be open and supportive of state training initiatives that focus on the training, health and welfare of our public safety officials.

Regarding the North Wilmington substation, I truly believe one is necessary more now than ever. The growth and development in Wilmington continues and there is a definite need in the north side of town especially with the train tracks near Elia’s and off of Salem Street. I fully recognize this substation will come with some upfront costs relative to the build and an increase in staffing, capital equipment, potential overtime costs, etc. However, I think this substation is vital and frankly long overdue. As a State Representative, I will be open and supportive of a project such as this assuming it is well planned out with fiscal responsibility and present and future needs in mind. As a State Representative, I would also be committed to seeking any available state funding sources to assist with this project.

Additionally, I would support a new center fire station in Tewksbury that was approved last year. The people of the community have spoken and this project is coming forward because there is a need. Once again, I am very receptive and supportive of doing what is necessary for our 19th Middlesex District public safety. If this is a need and the current infrastructure will not be sustainable for the foreseeable future, I believe it makes sense to consider construction now as construction costs, financing options, etc. continue to be on the rise. Therefore, the project you don’t do today will definitely cost you more tomorrow. In closing, I will say that the police and fire departments of both communities within the 19th Middlesex District are the life line for all of us to turn to in a time of need. These fine men and women deserve our respect and our attention in ensuring they all have what they need to do their jobs to ensure our continued public safety as well as their own.

#16) The Vietnam War Moving Wall recently visited Wilmington. It was a sobering reminder of what the men and women in our armed forces are willing to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. What will you do at the State House to support our local veterans and veterans statewide? What, if anything, have you done as a private citizen and/or locally elected official that shows a commitment to veterans? Do you personally have any family that serves/served?

As a patriotic person and as a prior Selectman for the Town of Wilmington, I have always been supportive of our Veterans. As you have stated, these men and women in our armed forces have and continue to be willing to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. These people are the true heroes among us and they deserve to be respected and cared for in the most appropriate manners possible.

As a State Representative, I will continue to support the Veterans’ programs throughout the state from VA services, to state hospital services, to Veterans’ housing initiatives, to social and emotional programs and funding and the list goes on. The needs for our Veterans is ever changing and spans across many subject areas. These brave men and women are often called upon to “unplug” from their current lives inclusive of their family and friends and go to foreign lands to serve and protect the American freedoms so many of us enjoy. It’s important as a society and for the next State Representative for the 19th Middlesex District to be cognizant of these facts and help these community heroes integrate back into their daily routine upon their return right here at home. This is not always an easy process as there are often health care needs and costs, mental health needs, etc. that our Veterans need help with as part of this re-integration and it’s imperative that local cities and towns and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts continue to provide assistance across all these matters. The incidence of PTSD and suicide among Veterans is continuing to drastically rise and as a state and within our local communities we need to continue our care and concerns for these most deserving people who truly need our help. I am committed to this personally and as a future State Representative for many reasons and simply stated because it’s the right thing to do!

As a prior elected official for some time I have always supported any Veterans’ related matter that came before the Board of Selectmen such as discussions about a Veteran’s related event and the list goes on. I can say that all of my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen have and continue to support our Veterans and the Veterans’ Services provided by Lou Cimaglia and his team in Wilmington. As a private citizen, I have attended fundraisers for Veterans, I have supported the Disabled Veterans and I have provided transportation for a friend and family to the various VA facilities when called upon. I have also been a supporter of the Wilmington Local Heroes and iPods for Wounded Veterans as I proudly wear my red, white and blue bracelet that was made for me and purchased at the Wilmington Senior Center a few months ago. Also, I was happy to volunteer for the Vietnam War Moving Wall that was just here last week. I attended multiple nights of ceremonies and I was truly moved by the whole experience. As Lou Cimaglia said it best, “the attendance during the time the wall was here shows that Wilmington doesn’t forget and will never forget our Veterans and more specifically our Vietnam Veterans.”

Regarding family members who have served in the military, I have many who have served and also have been residents of the 19th Middlesex District. I am so proud of their service to our country and they will forever have my respect and admiration for wearing a military uniform. My great grandparents, grandparents, cousins and brother have all served in the armed forces. Also, I have step parents and in-laws who have also served in the military. My father-in-law from Tewksbury was a soldier and part of the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam who I respect tremendously as a human being, a family man, a friend and for his service to our country. He is also my personal historian who shared the facts about this war and history in general which I have so much appreciated throughout the years. In closing, I want to once again express my unwavering support for our Veterans and my commitment to advocating for as much funding, benefits and support as possible for the brave men and women of our armed forces both past and present who serve our country.

(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)

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