I urge you all to vote “NO” on the Newton Charter Commission Recommendation. A No vote preserves your neighborhood voice. Don’t let the laudable goal of reducing the numbers of the Council obscure the proposal’s major impact: reducing the power of neighborhoods to influence city policy.
My faimliy has lived in West Newton since 1972, two daughters thrived in the Newton schools, and we enjoyed the many benefits of the city. Our neighborhood is diverse economically, culturally, generationally and ethnically. Each section of the city has its own mix. We all will lose the unique mix of our many neighborhoods if we vote to go to a council that is elected city-wide.
Don’t let the “city-wide constituency-ward residence” option fool you. An election based on an all city-wide contest, compared to a ward-only contest, requires more money and more visibility, and frankly less local appeal, to get enough votes for election. City-wide voting, even with a residency requirement, dilutes the power of neighborhoods, and weakens each councilor’s accountability for her or his actions. We all need councilors who respond to our unique neighborhood concerns. Consider the many issues that Newton will deal with in the future. Do you think that your neighborhood might just have a different perspective than other villages? In a city-wide council, the councilor who lives in your ward will still need electoral support from all over the city. With that in mind, can you be certain that that councilor will put your interests first?
Do we want the future driven by city-wide fiscal and development plans without any need to accommodate local concerns? We are one city, but each village is unique, and deserves its own voice. That voice will be quieter if we elect all our councilors city-wide, even with a residency requirement.
37 South Gate Park
West Newton, MA 02465