I have lived in Newton since 1950. Unfortunately, over recent years, I see mistakes of the past repeated because those in charge today have forgotten or never understood earlier decisions.
Like many, I received a phone call to “sound out” my opinions on changes the Charter Commission was considering. I explained why I thought the commission was embarking in the wrong direction and why, in the past, some things were done the way they were. After 90 minutes of questioning, the pollster told me I had provided information possessing considerable merit which she had not heard from others. However, I don't see the proposed charter as reflecting this council.
The development of “village cores” encouraged by Mayor Warren has diminished “ambiance” and detracted from what makes many appreciate the City. The latest proposal to eliminate the Ward Alderman (Councilor) so all elections will be city-wide guarantees the unique nature of our “many villages” will disappear and then Newton will become just another homogenized urban community.
Having both “At Large” and “Ward” Aldermen ensures the interests of individual villages survive and are not lost. This longstanding system provides balanced representation just as the U.S. House and Senate insure smaller states retain footing with California, New York, etc.
Shrinking the size of the Board has merit. However, changing how the members of the council are elected will place “at risk” the very attributes which makes residing in Newton desirable.
The Charter Commission needs to reconsider this recommendation to ensure what makes the City of Newton different and attractive can continue. Newton’s individual villages and its characterization as the “Garden City” must not be lost.