414 Waltham St., Newton, MA 02465
I have talked with people on both sides, and I have decided to support the Charter reform because I believe that:
1. The Council can work more efficiently with fewer members
2. At-large Councilors are already responsive to people in their wards
3. All voters should be able to vote for all Council seats. Right now, each of us can vote for only 71% of the Council.
4. Now, Ward-only Councilors can rise to very powerful leadership positions, yet are not accountable to 7/8 of our city voters.
The decision to privatize school operations must be made on a case-by-case basis after weighing the benefits, costs and budget priorities. The School Committee must weigh potential cost savings against the impact of losing employees who are a valuable part of our school community. In order to consider privatization, we would need to have severe financial necessity that we could not resolve in other ways, as well as significant savings without losing quality services or compromising safety.
My first priority would be getting our students to and from school safely, either by walking safe routes to school, riding bicycles, or using buses or carpools. We need to reduce the number of children being driven individually. Fewer parents driving would result in less traffic congestion across the city, reduced emissions and more healthy exercise for students who walk or bike. We need to devise incentives to encourage these alternatives, such as coordinating walking groups or carpools.
35 Kensington St., Newton, MA 02460
I will vote in favor of a New City Charter. A 12-members city council is a reasonable number and is comparable to our neighboring towns and cities. Newton voters still have their ward councilor, same as the school committee membership, which has served its role well for many years. Term limits for mayor and councilors will provide more competition and will certainly encourage newcomer candidates to compete for those seats with their new perspectives and energy to serve the community.
As a state government employee, I have witnessed that if a public agency has a clear mission and morale, and well managed, is a very effective organization. The privatization of any public operation has never been a panacea and will never be. The public nature of any organization is not equivalent to inefficiency. There are also human factors to consider with the option of privatization of the public school operation, as the schools should provide a safe/healthy environment for our students.
My key components would be safety, quality and efficiency. Students’ safety is paramount and every effort has to be made to guarantee students safely going to and back from school. The safety regulations within the school transportation contract have to be seriously implemented. The primary routes to schools should be carefully monitored for students’ walking and parenting driving. School’s long term planning should factor in safety, quality and efficiency for school transportation.