The Charter Commission has stated that they were open minded and deliberated long and hard and took public input on their decisions. Article 2 co-lead Rhanna Kidwell, in her opening remarks at the Charter Commission hearing on March 29th 2017 (minutes, full audio), indicated that might not have been the case for their decision to eliminate Ward Councilors by moving to 100% city wide voting.
"I'll begin by saying that I think we had unanimous agreement on this council from day 1 that we all thought the entire city council should be elected at large. That is not something we had a lot of trouble coming to agreement on".
April 13th, 2016 was DAY 1 of discussions on council composition (minutes).
Commissioners agreed 100% (without need for debate) on eliminating Ward Councilors and direct-elected ward representation in their initial statements and never put them back on the table.
The 9-member Charter Commission has proposed changing our city government by replacing ward-elected city council seats with four at-large seats lacking residency requirements. In my opinion this will lead to three adverse and unintended consequences.
One of the items slated for discussion by the Charter Commission is the size of the City Council. Recommendations regarding ward vs. at large, potential term limits and staggered elections are also on the table, which will be covered in future posts here on NewtonForum. For now, let’s talk size. I have heard that the impetus for the Charter Commission review was to reduce the size of the city council. However, I have not heard any examples of why our current size is bad.
For more see:
By Nancy Tener
Although we all appreciate the time and good intentions of everyone on the Newton Charter Commission, I am thoroughly unconvinced that its proposal improves Newton’s existing charter.
The proposed charter shrinks representation which will multiply the workload for each councilor, weakens voters’ relationships to elected officials and seems likely to diminish deliberation. If I were to vote on the proposed charter today, for those reasons, I would vote no and I would encourage my friends and neighbors to do the same.
For more, see Nancy's commentary in the 3/9/2017 Newton Tab.