There are 22 well qualified candidates for the 9 volunteer positions and there many similarities in candidate qualifications, including long resumes of valuable community service.
If you’ve been following this process, you’re hearing from candidates how important it is to be open-minded, to work well with others, and to be a good listener. I agree and look forward to putting these skills to work on your behalf.
Additionally, I’d like to be more specific on what my working priorities will be if you elect me as one of the nine commission members.
The Newton League of Women Voters has set out a clear list of what they’d like to see changed, which you will find on their website. The proposed change that gets talked about the most is reducing the size of the Board of Aldermen (soon to be called the City Council).
I’m open-minded on what the final number should be, if and how the term limits structure should be changed, and I’m open-minded on all the other topics covered under the Charter as well.
There is one thing I am not open minded about, and that’s the idea of reducing or eliminating Ward Aldermen. While the number of citywide At-Large Aldermen could change, I believe that Ward Aldermen are the elected officials who are closest to the people in the community–Aldermen like Lisle Baker in Chestnut Hill, Jay Harney in Auburndale and Lower Falls, John Rice in the Highlands and Waban, and Emily Norton in Newtonville. Your Ward Alderman is your essential direct link to city government. They are the most accessible and are best able to respond to your needs as a constituent.
I am strongly in favor of doing everything possible to increase democracy–not reduce it.
So, as a Commission member, I will vote to retain the Ward representation, as well as work to retain and increase ways of keeping local government as close to the people of Newton as possible.
I’ll also work to make the entire review process tangibly transparent, including full compliance with the open meeting laws, and make it easy for you to conveniently contribute to the Charter dialogue without having to spend hours at City Hall.
On November 3rd, the voters of Newton will either approve or reject the formation of a Charter Commission. On the very same ballot, voters will choose the members of the commission if the formation is approved.
As a Newton native, former Alderman, and someone with directly applicable communication skills which can be immediately helpful if the commission is formed, I would appreciate your vote.
Please vote Charles Shapiro for Charter Commission. Thank you.