Be Available to Constituents
Many residents of Newton are busy living their lives. When they encounter a problem, they may not know how to resolve it. Newton’s 311 system is a great problem-solving resource, but occasionally complex issues need more attention. A responsive representative can help get to a better resolution in a more timely manner.
Newton must make key decisions in the coming years concerning housing, schools, commercial entities and transportation. These issues are complicated and must be addressed in full recognition of the urgent need to respond to the climate crisis. Our next generation of elected officials need to be leaders: People who can think strategically and implement change effectively, and who can lead our residents toward a shared understanding of the issues, the options and the trade-offs. Status quo is not an option. Things are changing. Decisions not made by us will be made for us.
Improve Housing Options to Meet Critical Needs
Greater Boston, including Newton, has a well-documented housing shortage. It is affecting the financial stability of the region and significantly changing the demographics of Newton. Our current housing stock also does not offer much of a variety. If we are going to be city that supports our residents, we must ensure they have housing options that meet their needs.
My priority: Build housing that is more affordable, accessible, and near amenities.
Create A More Sustainable Transportation Model
Newton, like many communities, has evolved over the last fifty years to become very car-centric, with most people driving to work and making short trips around the city. Even with neighborhood schools, most children are driven to school. This trend is not sustainable–environmentally or in terms of continually increasing traffic. Transportation represents around 30% of Newton’s carbon footprint. Nationwide, 35% of vehicle trips are under 2 miles. The constantly increasing infrastructure required to accommodate so many cars on the roads (wider streets, large parking lots and highways) will create a less healthy, less pleasant and more expensive city to live in.
My priorities: Increase transportation options and help residents transition to be less car dependent.
Support Strong Schools
Newton schools are a point of pride. They are crucial to our community values and they are reflected in our high property values. The Newton Public Schools has started the difficult task of updating school buildings. There will be four additional major projects in the coming five years. The City Council plays an important role in overseeing and approving investments in our school properties. The City Council is also responsible for approving all changes to the streets surrounding the schools, thus overseeing all the transportation related changes necessary to support more walkable, neighborhood schools.
My priorities: Support school facilities upgrades and ensure school designs are more environmentally sustainable, including student transportation.
Address the Climate Crisis with Definitive Actions
The world has ten years to cut carbon emissions in half to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. While many things need to be done at a national level, communities must step up to help meet this goal. All Hands on Deck! Cities such as Minneapolis MN, Santa Monica CA, Arlington VA and Carmel IN are role models for best practices on addressing housing and transportation challenges in a way that is both sustainable and community enhancing.
My priorities: Ensure that climate is a driver in decisions about housing, transportation, businesses, schools and make Newton a leader in how communities respond to the climate crisis.
Make Newton A Better Place to Do Business
Newton is well positioned to grow its commercial tax base and capitalize on regional growth. Growth of the commercial tax base is key to funding current liabilities and the infrastructure improvements needed throughout the city. The city has recently adopted a new economic development plan that identifies a clear path forward. Key to this plan are several items that are firmly in the purview of the City Council.
My priorities: Improve transportation options for employees coming to Newton and for customers to shop locally. Increase housing types enabling more Newton employees to live close to work. Support new policies that would help to revitalize our village centers with more retail and restaurant businesses and more predictable processes for new commercial development.
Align Zoning To Strategic Goals for Housing, Transportation, Climate and Economic Development
The city began a major review of zoning two years ago. During this review process, it was determined that most properties do not meet current zoning. The proposed changes currently on the table attempt to create a set of rules to make zoning regulations more clear and reduce the need for special permits. However, the first draft of proposed zoning changes largely codifies what is already built, and thus may limit what individual property owners can build on their property. Zoning is a powerful tool to help the city meet the challenges it is currently facing.
My priority: Adopt new zoning that helps meet key goals on climate, the housing shortage, transportation, strong schools and economic development.