Mayor’s Office interns become better acquainted with their elected officials.
Alderman-at-Large: Jaclyn L. Bird
Interview Conducted by Brian P. Senier
Where did you grow up? If Melrose, what elementary school did you go to?
I grew up in Melrose and attended both the Beebe and Roosevelt Schools. I have great memories of those years and was lucky to be surrounded by wonderful teachers and families at both schools.
Where did you go to college? What did you study there and how did this prepare you for your role in city government?
I graduated from Washington College, a small liberal-arts school on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I majored in American Studies, with minors in Political Science and History. I think having a well-rounded education, with a concentration in government, has been very helpful with my role on the Board.
Washington College, though it is a small school, has an incredibly diverse student body. I know that being in classes with students from all over the country and around the world gave me a better understanding of how our life experiences shape our views and why we sometimes view issues with such different perspectives. This made me a better listener and I think that is a tremendously helpful skill to have in any job.
How long have you been a member of the Board of the Aldermen?
I was appointed to the Board of Aldermen in March 2011 to fill a vacancy on the board. In November 2011, I was elected to a two-year term.
Why did you decide to become an Alderman?
I have always been active in the city, whether through my past professional work with the Melrose Alliance Against Violence (MAAV) or through volunteering to lead the Franklin Early Childhood Center (ECC) P.T.O. When I found out that the Board was looking for applicants to fill a vacant seat, I saw this opportunity as an extension of my community involvement.
What is your favorite aspect of being an Alderman?
Do I have to pick just one?! There are many—I find it fascinating…what it takes to keep a great city running smoothly; trying to figure out how to create a balance of providing excellent city services while keeping costs down for residents; meeting new people in the community; and hearing from the city employees about their individual departments. I learn so much from listening to everyone around me, including my colleagues on the Board who have been great mentors for me.
Do you have any other interests? If so, what are they?
No other interests at all…strictly municipal budgets. Just kidding! Yes, I do have other interests. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and going to the beach.
What is one interesting thing about the ward in which you live?
I am an Alderman-at-Large, so I represent the whole city, but I am a resident of Ward 4. My family moved to Porter Street last year and my children are now the 5th generation of my family to live on Porter Street. Though, now I am realizing that this is probably only interesting to me!
What do you like most about Melrose?
Melrose has so much to offer, with such an easy commute to Boston, but with the benefits of a quiet, residential setting. We have a vibrant small business community, both downtown and in the other business districts in the city. I love the programs that Melrose offers for young families: organized and drop-in activities through the Recreation Department, the Winter Festival at Mount Hood, Community Nights Out in the summer, movies at Memorial Hall, the Lloyd pool on Tremont Street, the Melrose Kids Club, etc. I think the people, though, are what make our community so unique. We have volunteers on Little League and soccer fields, robotics teams, the Milano Senior Center, Veterans’ organizations, energy conservation groups, PTOs, and more. These volunteers are all personally invested in seeing Melrose thrive and I think that enthusiasm and dedication really sets us apart.
If you could change one thing about Melrose, what would it be and why?
I don’t think there is one thing specifically that I would like to see changed, but rather certain areas where we could expand and improve. These would include an aggressive water conservation plan, improvements to Melrose High School, which are ongoing, and regionalization of services where appropriate. Melrose is in a great place right now and I am happy to support programs that keep us moving in the right direction.