Have you figured out who you are voting for on Tuesday, November 3rd in Newton?
It’s an unusual year: more contested Aldermanic races that usual, a feisty atmosphere on the campaign trail, and a Charter Commission on the ballot.
Here’s a list of who I’m voting for and why.
p.s. My race in Ward 7 for Alderman-at-Large is uncontested this year … but I would still appreciate your vote!
Ward 1 – Ward Alderman (you can only vote for Alison if you live in Ward 1)
Alison Leary: Warm, progressive, unusually effective in her first term, a problem solver
Ward 2 – Alderman-at-Large
Susan Albright: Good heart, strong values, deep commitment to Newton’s citizens, an unusual understanding of the issues facing us, former member and Chair of the School Committee so also sensitive to educational issues
Marcia Johnson: Committed leader of zoning reform, keen intellect, committed to inclusiveness and diversity
Ward 3 – Alderman-at-Large
Ted Hess-Mahan: Passionate, deep land use and housing expertise
Ward 5 – Alderman-at-Large
Deb Crossley: Superb chair of Public Facilities, value and data driven, hard worker, architectural skills enormously valuable (only architect on the Board)
Brian Yates: Lifelong Newton resident and deeply committed to the City, especially historic preservation
Ward 8 – Alderman-at-Large
David Kalis: Asks a lot of questions to understand root causes and to find balanced solutions, listens to all sides and engages with everyone
Rick Lipof: Lifelong Newton resident and deeply committed to the City
Margaret Albright: deep knowledge of a wide range of educational issues, a change agent within the establishment
Steve Siegel: thoughtful, balanced, listens and leads, available, honest and direct, well prepared, weighs trade-offs transparently
In addition to voting for Aldermen and School Committee members, you can vote on whether to approve the creation of a Charter Commission and you can vote on who the Charter Commission members should be if the majority of us vote “yes” for the Charter Commission.
The Charter Commission will review and recommend changes to Newton’s charter (our constitution). The Charter establishes the powers and authority of the Mayor, Board of Aldermen, School Committee, and other public officials, boards and commissions. It also establishes the terms of elected officials and the number of seats on the Board of Aldermen.
A Charter Commission has 9 members. The members are elected at the same time as the commission is created.
The Charter Commission works for 18 months. The revised charter it supports is placed on the ballot for approval/rejection by Newton voters in November 2017.
Even if you vote “no” on establishing a Charter Commission, you may still vote for Charter Commission members.
I am voting “yes” for a Charter Commission. Our last Charter Commission was 46 years ago. It’s time for a fresh look. Can we improve the way we govern ourselves? Probably.
We can only vote for nine candidates but there are more than nine that I would be happy to support.
When choosing who to vote for, I looked for: (1) a deep understanding of Newton and/or government, (2) an open, inquisitive mind about new ways of governing, and (3) strong interpersonal skills to work successfully in a diverse group.
Here are my top nine in alphabetical order:
Bryan Barash: Serves as the legislative director and general counsel of the state Senate Majority Leader. Deeply involved with the work of the Newton Human Rights Commission and Green Newton. Inquisitive, a good listener, a fresh perspective.
Jane Frantz: Has lived in Newton for 34 years. Teacher in the Newton Public Schools. Cares deeply about Newton, a reformer at heart.
Peter Harrington: Has lived in Newton for 52 years. Served four years on the Board of Aldermen, six years as State Representative. Served on the last Charter Commission in 1971. Knowledgeable, experienced, historical perspective.
Howard Haywood: Fifth generation resident of Newton. Served on the Planning and Development Board and Human Rights Commission. Currently serving on the Council on Aging and the Newton Housing Authority. Former pastor of Newton’s Myrtle Baptist Church. Good heart, sees the forest for the trees, open mind, understands Newton.
Rhanna Kidwell: Has lived in Newton for twenty-one years. Co-leader of the League of Women Voters of Newton study which examined our current charter to see if we should update it. Understands the wide range of issues we might consider changing and best practices. Articulate and deeply versed in charter issues.
Josh Krintzman: Grew up in Newton. President of the Lower Falls Improvement Association. PTO leader. As attorney for the Massachusetts Senate, reviews every change or rewrite of city and town charters. Deep knowledge of charters and passionate about Newton.
Anne Larner: Has lived in Newton for over forty years. Sixteen years on the Newton School Committee, eight of them as Chair. Wise and experienced.
Brooke Lipsitt: Grew up in Newton. Twelve years on the Board of Aldermen, six of which she was President of the Board. Chair of Zoning Board of Appeals. Knows intimately the pros and cons of our current charter, understands zoning and special permits, an experienced leader.
Chris Steele: Five years on the Newton Economic Development Commission, two of which he was Chair. By profession, a community and economic development consultant who studies what makes cities and towns work well. An expert in zoning and planning. Energetic, well read and serious.
I am also very impressed with Kathy Winters who I recently met. She’s smart, great working with groups with diverse views, curious and balanced. George Mansfield, a former long time Alderman, would also bring his extensive background in city planning to the charter commission.