The Boston Globe featured the Charter Commission Chair Josh Krintzman and Newton Ward Councilor Emily Norton presenting the case for and against the proposed replacement of Newton's Constitution, the city charter.
Below is Emily's case against the charter:
Newton Ward 2 City Councilor
Voters should vote “No” on Nov. 7 because the proposed changes to the composition of the City Council are extreme and would make Newton’s government less effective, less accountable, and more easily dominated by special interests.
The Charter Commission proposal would downsize the City Council by eliminating all eight ward councilors, who are elected by voters in each ward, and instead provide for 12 at-large councilors elected by all voters citywide — one residing in each ward plus four residing anywhere in the city.
One effect of this change would be to make it easier for influential private developers to get projects approved. Why? Because unlike a ward councilor elected by voters of that ward, a ward councilor elected citywide could ignore concerns of abutters and still easily win re-election, simply because the city is so big. Regardless of one’s position about development, it is valuable to ensure the concerns of those most affected are at least considered; projects are often improved with neighborhood feedback.
This change will also limit who can run and win council seats. Citywide campaigns are much more expensive, so they benefit those who can self-fund or raise large amounts of money. They also benefit those connected to established political networks.
Lastly, four at-large councilors from anywhere means one ward could have five of the 12 councilors. In contrast, our current system ensures equitable representation.
As I have knocked on hundreds of doors throughout Newton the last few months, I have found that while some voters do support downsizing, they don’t support doing it by eliminating ward representation. For that reason I am one of 14 councilors proposing an alternative downsizing option — a “Plan B,” that is — reducing the City Council to sixteen members: eight ward and eight at-large. This Plan B is written in such a way that it only moves forward if the Charter Commission proposal is defeated.
So if you like the idea of downsizing but want to maintain ward councilors, vote “No” on Nov. 7. With 14 co-sponsors, a majority of the City Council, Plan B will move ahead — but only if the Charter Commission’s version is voted down Nov. 7. For more information on the campaign against the charter change, visit newtondemocracy.org.
Below is a fact check on the arguments made for the charter by Mr. Krintzman.
Please login to your Boston Globe account and vote NO on charter in the poll.