Candidate Profiles: Board of Health

Candidate Questions: Board of Health Candidate Janice Cohen

We asked the three candidates for Board of Health the same five questions to give voters a look into why they are running and what they would hope to achieve on the board. 

Here we have the answers from candidate Janice Cohen:

1: Why are you seeking to be elected or re-elected to this position? 
A: I have a substantial interest in the effects of climate change, which is expected to have a profound impact on the Northeast and on our town.   We can expect an increase in the occurrence and intensity of weather-related events. Increased flooding of houses can lead to illness from mold.  Extreme high and low temperatures, combined with power loss can lead to heat related illness or hypothermia.  Extreme weather can impact response times to residents’ health emergencies. I look forward to helping the Board of Health prepare for these events.

I am very passionate regarding programs that benefit the elderly.  Being a frequent visitor to the nursing home that my 101 year-old mom resides in, I see firsthand the devastating effect falls have on the elderly.  I feel that it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy eating to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.  The BOH has a vital role in promoting preventative health for Burlington citizens.

2: What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate?
A: As a former educator, I have taught middle school students about the consequences of climate change, improper disposal of hazardous materials and the importance of clean energy in preserving our air, land, and water.  I have developed good communication skills from my teaching experience.  This background makes me well equipped to communicate these and other issues to the community.

I currently work part time as a special education advocate helping families and their children with special needs, obtain the services they need to thrive from their school district.  In that capacity, as well as my capacity as a former educator, I have developed the communication and collaborative skills needed to engage with colleagues to reach solutions that are agreeable to all. In conclusion, I am a good communicator, listener, and well organized.  I plan to be prepared on issues before the Board of Health.  

3: What character traits/strengths do you possess that makes you a good candidate?
A: I take a pragmatic approach to issues, looking at practical and realistic solutions to issues that are based on facts and data, rather than solely relying on opinions and emotions.  As a retired teacher, I feel that I now have the time to devote to being a member of the Board of Health.  I stay up to date on local, state, and national news that might be important to the mission of the BOH.  I am conscientious, and will take my role on the Board of Health seriously.  

4: What issues do you think are the most pressing facing the board/committee you are running for and what do you think should be done to address them?
A: A major issue facing the Board of Health is the transition back into pre pandemic mode.  The Board of Health needs to resume many community programs that were suspended or limited in scope during the pandemic. 

Another pressing issue for the Board of Health is the safe introduction of biotechnology businesses into the community to fill the offices left empty by the shift to the hybrid work model.  The Board of Health will need to work with other Boards in town to make sure that the Biological Safety Regulations for the permitting and oversight of companies utilizing regulated biological agents are adhered to.  

5: Candidate’s Own Question and Answer: What would you do personally to help the Board of Health achieve its’ mission of preventative health, planning, and programming?

A: As a member of the Burlington Volunteer Reserve Corps, I plan to participate in running programs such as hazardous waste collections and vaccine clinics. I plan to reach out to the assisted living homes in town to make sure that their staff is aware of programs offered such as “Matter of Balance”, and invite them to participate in this fall prevention program. I will work to reinstate programs that were suspended during the pandemic such as “Stop the Bleed”.  

I will also work to expand the dissemination of information from the Board of Health to include families who are not fluent in English, by working with the schools to provide information to those families in their native language.