Vote NO on the New Charter
I agree that Newton's charter should have been evaluated and improved to keep up with best practices and changes in our city. However, the proposal put forth by the Charter Commission is unfair as it reduces ward representation and favors candidates who are better funded, independently affluent and politically connected.
The Charter Commission's proposal eliminates Ward Councilors-- who are elected only by residents of their ward. Although they maintain one Councilor-At-Large per ward, local representation will be reduced, because At-Large Ward Councilors do not necessarily need the support of the constituents in their ward to win an election. Furthermore, Ward Councilors are especially accountable to the constituents in their ward and they are able to address ward issues with greater efficiency and understanding.
In a city of over 88,000 residents, running for city government is a time consuming and expensive proposition. At the citywide level, it is impossible to win an election by knocking on every door. Instead, it takes more time and resources, thereby making it difficult, if not impossible, for residents with full-time jobs or families to participate in Newton's government.
I propose a City Charter that reduces the number of councilors from 24 to 16. Instead of making all seats open to a citywide contest, each ward would maintain one Ward Councilor and one At-Large Councilor. This solution would reduce the number of councilors thereby making the Council more efficient, and more importantly maintain ward representation. (Click here to learn more about my proposal.)
The Charter Commission's Proposal
In November 2015, Newton residents voted for a Charter Commission and 9 Commissioners to to revise the city's charter.
The Charter Commission's proposal achieves two main outcomes. First, it reduces the size city council by half-- from 24 councilors to 12 councilors. Second, it implements term limits for mayor and councilors.
Under the New Charter Proposal
- Each of the 8 wards will have a Councilor-At-Large restricted by residency, who is elected by voters citywide.
- There will be 4 more At-Large councilors who are unrestricted by residency, and can reside in any of the 8 wards.
- Term limits are as follows:
- 3 consecutive terms (or 12 years) for Mayor
- 8 consecutive terms (or 16 years) for City Councilor