As a community we face a growing number of concerns: housing, transportation, schools, our environment to name just a few. In 2019, our city is facing more challenges than it ever has before, and we are in the midst of defining who we are. There is no other city or town in the United States that is like Newton. We are made up of 13 villages that each has their own identity and together these villages make up Newton. Newton represents the best of both the more remote suburbs and aspects of city living. We are unique in that aspect. We are both a city and multiple villages. So, how do we continue to define ourselves into 2020 and beyond?
WE MUST WORK TOGETHER. ALL VOICES MUST BE HEARD.
We must put aside our differences and enter into an honest dialogue where the voices of all individuals are heard and counted. We must employ strategic thinking that goes beyond what came before and strives to answer difficult questions in a new and innovative way. How do we do this? We start with transparency and openness. A willingness to listen to all voices. The next generation of leaders in Newton must listen to the constituents and act on input from the residents and stakeholders. We must represent our community—not dictate our own desires. We must be aspirational and elect leaders who will effect change. We need transformational leaders who will inspire, encourage and motivate all members of our community to create change that will successfully grow and shape the future of Newton.
My thoughts: Strive to ensure that people know what is happening in Newton and feel included. We must meet people where they are and work to bring in new voices to our decision making process.
WE NEED CAREFULLY DESIGNED AND IMPLEMENTED PROJECTS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO OUR COMMUNITY.
I support affordable housing. I support increasing the number of units available. And I support a thoughtful approach to the number of large developments that are currently being planned. I support carefully designed and implemented projects that contribute to our community. All the projects go forward today can be huge assets to Newton, but we must look at them thoughtfully and ensure we are creating the best outcome. Newton must ensure that our aging population have options open to stay in Newton. We must ensure that young families are able to move into and stay in Newton. Are we serving this population if we don’t thoughtfully implement the best developments possible? We must ask difficult questions and seek the best answers, not the fastest ones. We must strive to do what is correct for our community and not for the big business entities that are seeking to make the biggest return on investment on the backs of our community.
My thoughts: Newton should lead with what we want and ask the developers to please work with us to ensure that both our city and they are happy. This means compromise. Listening to residents and representing them is the first priority.
WE NEED NEW THINKING AND CREATIVE SOLUTIONS.
With the significant development being planned and more projects yet to come we must ask “How are people moving around our city?” Are we able to ensure that people can move with ease to our shopping centers? How does our aging population get to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store? How do commuters move through Newton? Currently, we are very limited in options for residents to travel to stores and get to public transportation. How can we solve the problem of one car trips?
My thoughts: A public/private partnership with new developments paying into a fund for transportation connections through all the villages. This will allow for development in all appropriate areas, not just where we already have density, and would facilitate fewer car trips to drop people at stores, doctor appointments, etc.
DEVELOPMENT PRESENTS OPPORTUNITIES TO DO THINGS BETTER.
Reducing car trips is just the start. We must be looking toward increasing solar panels on new commercial developments and supporting programs that incentivize individuals to participate in sustainable activities.
My thoughts: All new commercial developments should be required to have a certain percentage of their roof tops available for solar panels. We should also be looking at spaces within Newton that are open for solar farms without removing old growth trees.
OUR RESOURCES MUST BE MAINTAINED AND IMPROVED.
Newton has a history of responding to emergencies, but not planning and preparing for the future. Newton’s CFO has worked very hard on changing this and moving toward a maintenance plan. Newton must look to keep up with the current tasks while making sure that there is money set aside for unforeseen costs.
My thoughts: Let’s ensure that the city council is ensuring that the budget reflects this strategy while also ensuring that current projects are funded. Street lights, berms, our schools, and our environment must be taken care of on a regular basis so that our resources are maintained and improved.
MAINTAIN WHAT WE HAVE; ACQUIRE MORE WHEN POSSIBLE
Newton is the Garden City, and we all value our beautiful parks, trees and public open spaces. Newton loses more trees every year and they need to be replaced and increased. Opportunities exist to enhance our existing resources and to acquire new property for our enjoyment and for posterity.
My thoughts: We must preserve Webster Woods and other threatened natural areas. Crystal Lake is fragile and needs good stewardship while welcoming appropriate active and passive uses. Restoration of the historic Crystal Lake Bath House should be considered. New development should be balanced by a proportional increase in open space. Many communities have found creative ways to preserve open space and Newton can too.
GREAT SCHOOLS BENEFIT US ALL.
Our education system is the shining star of our community. People from all over the United States move to Newton for our public school system. I am a product of an outstanding Newton education. We must support our teachers by ensuring our schools are well maintained, our teachers have classrooms they can feel proud of and our students feel a part of the school community.
My thoughts: How can we ensure we are supporting our teachers? How do we approve budgets so that all teachers have classrooms of their own? How do we ensure that our classroom aides and assistants feel a part of our community and a sense of pride in being part of the Newton education system? We must ensure that assistants and aides are being compensated fairly. We should strive for retention of these valuable assets.
INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION.
For our community to embark on the work that lies ahead we must strive to be as transparent as possible. We must strive to include as many voices as possible. Money and relationships that go toward influencing decision making, must be made apparent. Task force membership needs to open up to caring and knowledgeable residents. Let’s include as many voices as we can in a productive dialogue.
My thoughts: Let’s open up traffic council, task force membership, and commissions to those that are knowledgeable at a lay-persons level. Let’s include the passion of individuals to bring about thoughtful and interesting solutions.
Aging in Place
A STRONG COMMUNITY NEEDS PEOPLE OF ALL AGES.
For those that love their homes in Newton, aging in place should be an option. Newton is working toward helping to make this a reality, but we are not there yet. Navigating the complicated world of reverse mortgages, deferring real estate taxes, and getting tax reductions is complex.
My thoughts: Strive to ensure that those that would like to age in place know all the options available to them. Ensure that the city is doing the best they can to help facilitate this by looking at the different options and trying to make sure the policies that are currently in place are not prohibiting people from taking full advantage of them.