934 Watertown Street, Newton, MA
The Charter has been a journey from the signatures to place the item on the ballot, then to holding an election to select the Commission. The next 1 1/2 years was spent to complete a review leading to a vote in this years election. Unfortunately, given my experience, I must vote no, as the Charter Commission made 2 crucial mistakes, on local representation in eliminating Ward Councilors, and in allowing for the possibility of 5 Councilors to serve from one Ward.
True leadership is what is called for in times of extreme viewpoints by people on both sides of many issues. Many have real concerns, have their fears; and I want to note firmly that extreme viewpoints have always existed, but in the past year, through a variety of reasons, have been given a place at the table. On the Council, I am the leader that defuses conflict and promotes staying the course of municipal matters. The reality is in many issues, that I am supported by both sides.
The ability to implement MU-4 was first approved by the City Council prior to my election in 2014. My position on building in the Village Centers has been very consistent since I first ran for election in that I would be amenable to projects that allow building over the existing Village Sq footprints. Having said that, post Washington Place, myself and other Councilors are working to define the boundaries to allow for MU-4. We are seeking areas that can support MU-4. and not create burden.
7 Taft Avenue, West Newton, MA 02465
I support the proposed changes to the City Charter.
As an observer of the City Council for over 30 years, I believe that a smaller Council would be more effective. A group of 24, the largest in Massachusetts, is unwieldy, leading to delays and unnecessary work, some of which can well be done by other bodies, including city department staff and existing boards and commissions. With one elected representative from each ward, no ward will lose representation. 12 is a more productive number.
Being a voice of civil discourse is a key reason why I’m running. Being a model for that is one way to set the tone of the importance of respect for listening to divergent views and conflicting goals.
Each voice on the Council that respects the importance of civil discourse will be beneficial. I would support a required workshop on civil discourse for Council members. I focus on common values, am open to and respectful of differing viewpoints, research solid information to be well-informed.
I applaud the MU4 district, and recognize there are limited sites for which it is appropriate. Criteria I agree with that are set out to encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented village life include:
•services exist for residents' needs
•plan transitions well to existing context
•active street front enhances local businesses & pedestrian activity
•single floor living, accessible to people of all abilities
•public open space
•housing for all incomes
50 Murray Road, West Newton, MA 02465
No. Elimination of ward-elected councilors - those easiest to challenge and vote out if they’re not representing the interests of the ward they live in - is contrary to the principle of representative democracy. It would remove the low cost option for running by walking the ward, reduce diversity of opinion, and it’s unclear how work currently done by 24 elected councilors could be redistributed.
Non-controversial codification of financial procedures can be done through home rule petition.
Civility is subjective, and robust debate is a right, much as I deplore recent attempts to silence debate by questioning the motivation of open space advocates, and opponents of high-density development.
Increasing early engagement on issues is critical. I support resident-centered planning and wider abutter-notification areas. I encourage people to sign up for the City Clerk’s weekly newsletter, and will supplement with my own, blogging and other outreach.
MU4 should be repealed before it further displaces already insufficient commercially zoned property. I would not support additional MU4s because of their negative effects including displacement, higher housing costs and added cars. The fiscal impacts (tax revenue vs cost of services) of Austin Street and Washington Place will likely be negative. And I would not approve a special permit for a building over 3 stories built with lightweight or engineered wood framing due to fire safety concerns.