The upcoming town election on March 7th, is an unusual one in Wellesley electoral politics because there are so many contested races. But with so much happening in Washington at the federal level, Wellesley voters may find it hard to concentrate on these local candidates. The fact is, the folks on these town boards are more likely to affect our day-to-day lives than the folks in Washington. 

Thus, we have asked each candidate running for a contested seat to answer three questions about sustainability and how it relates to the work of that particular board. We will be covering one race at a time leading up to the election on March 7. Please share widely with your friends and neighbors — and please VOTE! All responses will be posted on our web site through Election Day on March 7, 2017, for your reference.

We believe sustainability is an important dimension of the Town’s responsibility to Wellesley so we asked all candidates how they believe sustainability relates to their work for us. 

Meet the two Board of Health Candidates Shepard Cohen and Robert Anthony. Here is what they had to say about their possible three-year term position.

Robert Anthony’s responses:

Q1. What is your track record on sustainability, including any particular interests and experience with sustainable ideas and initiatives?

A1. Your February 10 deadline for a response is perfect because I am in the forest area of Yellapur, India working on Rotary’s international ‘Peer Leadership & Depression Prevention’  program. Each day here I see examples of the  failure to live in sustainable ways. Even in the forest, the air is smoky by too many people working too little land and using wood as their primary fuel.  Tap water is not safe to drink.

Q2. How do you view the relationship between public health, the environment, and sustainability?

A2. I view the relationship among public health, the environment and sustainability as clear and direct. As soon as I leave the smoky forest areas, the noise pollution is constant. Vehicle horns are used at each bend of the road and over each hill crest. Debris litters every roadside. I love the people of Katnataka state in India but it’s geography has been devastated.

Q3.What specific initiatives related to the environment should the Board of Health undertake in your prospective three-year term?

A3. As a member of the three person board, I would consistently encourage collaboration with all town departments and the wider community. Sustainable Wellesley initiatives and wellness initiatives naturally complement the other. Simple examples: fabric shopping bags could advertise the wellness workshops for new parents at Newton Wellesley hospital, distribution of seedlings from historic trees of Wellesley could be packaged with a mindfulness activity (such as visual imagery)  focused on the tree, and the aquaponic experiment could be fostered with a lesson on how nutrition affects mind and body.

Shepard Cohen’s response:

Thank you for your questions regarding local public health and the environment. Given the shared mission of protecting the health, safety and well-being of all Wellesley residents, there has always been and always will be a strong link between public health and environmental protection services.

The Wellesley Health Department’s section on Environmental Health is staffed with expert, experienced Environmental Health Specialists and our current Health Director has a graduate degree in environmental sciences.

During my 25 plus years on the Board of Health (20 as chair), we are proud of a long list of environment/sustainable accomplishments, to name a few: anti-idling campaign, artificial turf studies and directives, toxic use reduction grants, pesticide awareness campaign, integrated pest management policies, sharps/needle/medication disposal, and several others.

Looking to the immediate future, the Health Department, under the leadership of the Board of Health, will do education and enforcement of the plastic bag ban, will work with the Green Collaborative on food waste initiatives, and will participant in the planning and conduct of the Landscapes for Living Symposium in May, 2017.