Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Polls open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
You can vote for TWO candidates in EACH ward.
Biographical information (including why you chose to seek this office)
50 words maximum
What are your ideas to increase city revenues and decrease city expenses? (75 words maximum)
How should the city's experience with Avalon Bay development on Needham Street inform the planning and development process? (75 words maximum)
A life long Newton resident, I attended Newton public schools and graduated from Newton North High School. After graduating from high school I attended Johnson and Wales were I taught for two years. I recently graduated from New England School of Law and have passed the bar. Newton needs change.
1. Capitalism. By fostering business and reasonable development in the city we should be able to keep revenue at a level sufficient to operate the city. The problem we have now is that the Board of Alderman is only willing to cut one budget. That is the budget of Newton's citizens and it is cut every time taxes are raised. That is the only budget I pledge not to cut.
2. Avalon Bay was an expensive lesson for the citizens of Newton. Though tax revenue from that piece of property will dramatically increase, the strain on the infrastructure will be great. When developers are backed into a corner this type of project is used since they are statutorily almost impossible to stop. In the future we must work closely with developers and the community to reach a compromise that both can live with.
Married. 1989-2002 Newton public schools parent College professor. Former Newton Corner Neighborhood Association Moderator. I am a member of the BOA Finance Committee and Public Facilities Committees and vice-chair of the Real Property Reuse Committee. I am knowledgeable and experienced. I want to preserve our neighborhoods and schools.
1. Tax payments Newtonites make to the state constitute a major source of income for the Commonwealth. Inequitably, the City of Newton receives back from the state a sliver of what Newton people contribute. We need to increase-to a less unfair level-the city's "pink sheet" financial support from the state. We also need to raise the return we earn on our multi-million dollar pension fund portfolio. Doing so decreases our annual pension expenses dramatically.
2. Newton couldn't subject the Avalon Bay development to our special permit process because, by operation of current state law, too few Newton residential units are deemed affordable. As I have already done with regard to income level and age qualifications for our real estate tax deferral program, we need to introduce new legislation on Beacon Hill returning to municipal special permit granting authorities, like the Board of Aldermen, effective authority to regulate land use.
Elected member Board of alderman 14 years. Life long resident of Newton. Attended Newton schools. Following WW 11, Pacific Theater Campaign, attended Lowell Textile Evening School, Veterans' Agent City of Newton 34 years. Director of License Commission 20 years. Licensed Social Worker and Advisory Board Member of Human Rights Commission.
1. 1. Is it necessary? Or is it something that is not really needed. Can we afford it? Remember there is no limit to what we would like, but there is a limit to what we can afford. What will it cost ultimately? Some proposals are like icebergs with only a small fraction of the total costs showing above the surface.
2. Any development under 40B is without any controls by a city or town. We must work with our members of the House and the Senate of the Commonwealth of Mass. to establish some safeguards for our cities and towns, but also make certain that the provisions for affordable housing are protected.
I care about Newton and can add a significant voice for improvement. I've served Newton in leadership roles including Chair of the School Committee. I've studied urban planning and am now the Director of an innovative technology program at Tufts University accomplishing large goals with a small budget.
1. There is no magic bullet to increase our revenue. A recovered economy will help by restoration of state aid. Energy conservation is one way to decrease city expenses. The school system recently converted to energy efficient lighting paid for by Boston Edison. In similar fashion the city bought the street lights. There may be additional economies in energy use. We should continue to look for economies of staff across city and school departments.
2. Projects on major thoroughfares like Needham and Washington Streets or Route 9 involve more than the local neighborhood and need a broader audience during the review. Chapter 40B projects create affordable housing and maintain Newton's diversity. However, until Newton reaches the 10% level of affordable housing established by law we will have little control over such projects. A citywide discussion about housing density should guide planning and regulation for 40B and other housing projects.
I was raised and educated in Newton, served in the US Army and married (Patricia Maloney). We have three children all educated in the Newton School System and nine grandchildren. One reason is housing, I would like to see more housing for Newton Senior citizens and affordable housing so young...
1. I think every idea to raise revenue and taxes and fees in this city has been done. We just had an override and we have 7.2 million in free cash. Building Permits, being a great source of income on additions to existing homes and new development should be encouraged, keeping in mind, we must protect the character of the neighborhoods from monster homes being built.
2. Avalon Bay is something built by right after the Stop & Shop request for a special permit was denied by the Board of Alderman on a 14 in favor 9 opposed and 1 absent. It takes sixteen votes to approve a special permit. Avalon Bay has filed a petition under chapter 40B to build another development on Rt-9 by the Towers and this will not even come before the Board of Alderman.
Preserving the unique advantages Newton offers is critical. Therefore, my priorities are quality education, youth, and elder services; conservation of open space; increased affordable housing and neighborhood preservation. Pursuing these priorities allows me to leverage my 25 years of experience as an educator, human resources professional, and business woman.
1. Newton should identify its core services to be funded by property taxes, and those that are more user-based and may have a fee attached. We must continually examine our general fees, like licenses, which are user-based and may be adjusted to what the "market" will bear. We should assess the potential savings from merging the School and City Human Resources departments. Lastly, introduce efficiencies through technology in places like the Clerk's Office and Inspectional Services.
2. Avalon Bay bypassed local zoning laws because only 5% of Newton's housing stock qualifies as "affordable," which is far short of the 10% state requirement. The City needs to collaborate with developers to establish permanent deed restrictions governing the affordability of a unit so they are not lost over time. We must look at how to incorporate the use of accessory apartments into our Inclusionary Zoning Ordnance while exercising all options available under this ordinance.
No response received by deadline. Here are his responses
for the Preliminary Elections Voters Guide
Lawyer, husband, and father of three children in the Newton public schools. Newton faces serious issues and challenges that require leaders with vision, commitment, intelligence and ability-qualities I believe I've shown in serving our community as an advocate and activist for quality schools, housing affordability, diversity and human rights.
1. Next year's projected $2 billion state budget deficit means additional cutbacks in local aid, increasing pressure on municipalities to maintain quality schools and essential programs and services, and forcing hard choices. To increase revenues, I'd support promoting economic growth and development through public-private partnerships, and consider user fees for nonessential, yet desirable services. To decrease expenses I'd support the Mayor's efforts to reorganize and consolidate city departments, curb excessive overtime, and outsource services where appropriate.
2. Like the Needham Street area, all Newton faces increasing pressure from development, traffic and congestion, and a critical lack of affordable housing. I'd support developing a comprehensive plan for land use, housing, transportation, open space, historical preservation and economic development, implementing recently enacted inclusionary zoning ordinances, and adopting overlay districts and design review guidelines to effectively curb oversize projects, "mansionization", and rampant overdevelopment that threaten the unique character and diversity of Newton's villages and neighborhoods.
No response received by deadline. Below is his late response:
I am a married father of four, and own a small business in West Newton. I served on the School Committee from 1981-1989, (Chairman from 1984-86). An Alderman since 1990, I seek re-election so I can continue to participate in how decisions are made at the local level of government.
1. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen must work with our State House delegation to insure that Newton receives its fair share of local aid. We should explore legislation that will allow the city to assess telecommunication companies for the use of city rights of way. We should continue to consolidate duplicate city and school functions whenever possible. Together with our city unions, we should work positively and creatively to better manage our overtime accounts.
2. Avalon Bay was built through the state comprehensive permit process, bypassing the Board of Aldermen. Comprehensive permits generally allow a larger number of units to be constructed than an as of right development or a special permit request. Therefore, when evaluating Land Use requests that come before the Board, Aldermen must consider all three options in determining what is fair and reasonable development, if any, in the neighborhood and in particular to the immediate abutters.
Twice elected former Alderman. BA- Notre Dame JD- B.U. Professional Experience:HUD - Associate Regional Counsel, Private Practice - McCullough, Stievater & Polvere, FAA - Enforcement Counsel, FDIC - Senior Attorney serving on the Board would again give me the opportunity to use my education, professional knowledge, and life experience to help other people.
1. As a former alderman I've been there before; I know what I'm doing, and I have a plan for the Post Audit Committee of the Board to review the operation and expenses of each city and school working group on an on-going basis, not just during the two month budget review. This program audit could be a valuable management tool to help ensure effective delivery of services, and the efficient use of our tax dollars.
2. On the Land Use Committee, I fought to protect our neighborhoods from over-development. The board should be miserly on the issuance of special permits, and should find that a proposed development meets the requirement of serving the "public convenience and welfare" only when it is in the best interest of the neighborhood where it is located. I have fought and will fight to protect against the over-development of our city.
I seek to bring focus and discipline to city government. I am accustomed to providing complex and superior services in fiercely competitive environments. I manage a hospitality-industry strategic marketing firm, was 17-year manager of Boston's famed Copley Plaza Hotel, and am involved with substantial industry, cultural and educational board positions.
1. Objectives: Keep taxes within Prop 2. 5 guidelines, eliminate the override, freeze expenditures for at least three years. Like-minded newly-elected aldermen and school committee members will confront and change "business as usual." This necessary, perhaps contentious, process must correct Cohen's failed stewardship in managing property, employees and systems. The process requires "forcing conditions" to change from this "mayor/aldermen get along-go along spending mindset" to a mindset that inspires excellent stewardship to keep Newton safe and strong.
2. The city's experience screams this message: "No vision or leadership at executive levels of city government." Real leadership inspires process, Cohen's administration hides behind process. Process alone percolates mediocrity and incompetence characterized by our "get along-go along" city administration and aldermen, and illustrates their comfort in hiding behind yet another task force, or commission or redundant committee. Great recent examples of Cohen administration/aldermen failed stewardship include Avalon Bay, Newton North and Teddy Bear Club relocation.
I am running to keep Newton affordable for all our citizens, not just the wealthy... My background in finance and accounting (MBA B.U.) equips me to meet the budgetary and operational challenges. I am a 15-year Board member of Newton Taxpayers Association. I seek to reduce unnecessary spending / needless taxes.
1. The City must live within our citizens' means. Expenditures rose 11% in FY2003 while inflation was 2.8%. FY1997 to FY2002 (4 yrs.) expenditures rose 24% while property taxes increased 15% or about 3.75% per year. We're spending too much. Set a budget limit. Prioritze spending according to importance for the City. All budget goals should be reviewed. Opportunities to innovate, improve, become more productive should be encouraged and longer-term restructuring should be initiated.
2. A comprehensive zoning review should be undertaken with input from all citizens. Zoning should be clearly written, equally applied, with variances only in extreme cases. Public officials should work to rescind 40-B and Dover Amendment which permit exemptions from zoning. The City must enforce all zoning and executive orders. Newton's reliance on a highly contentious, expensive, time-consuming special permit process serves to discourage all but major developers thus denying residents a range of development options.
Married, mother of three, Williams parent; Attorney; Chair, AdHoc CPA Committee. Sponsored and supported programs and policies that protect the environment, that improve city services, that support our schools, that promote affordable housing opportunities, that preserve historic resources, and that provide for greater accessibility and accountability of City Government.
1. Establish incentives to promote businesses; provide benefits to aid existing businesses; impose fees to large-scale developers and institutions for tearing up our city streets by requiring substantial upgrade of roadways and sidewalks in the permitting process or make payment to the City. Fines for zoning violations and overnight parking should be increased. Increase city source reduction program and reuse materials whenever possible.
2. Avalon Bay's Needham Street development should motivate us to find ways to convert existing housing stock into affordable units so Newton can reach its affordable housing requirement (thereby eliminating 40B exposure). This would enable us to maintain open space and preserve many existing structures. Newton needs to adopt a vision/masterplan for various areas around Newton and institute incentives to attract development that complement the "vision" and maintains the character of the neighborhood.
John Stewart was elected to the board of aldermen in 1975, 1987, 1989 and 2001. He has been active in community affairs in Newton for the thirty-three years he and his family have lived in Lower Falls. He was director of education at the Kennedy Library from 1979 to 1999.
1. Budget review process for departments, including schools, must be radically changed. Managers must be held accountable for measurable results of appropriate quality and quantity. Municipal services must be analyzed to identify where fees are and are not justified. It is doubtful that revenues can be increased significantly in foreseeable future. Overall spending cannot be reduced until backlog of capital projects is under control, but the city can do better in defining priorities and allocating funds.
2. Everyone must vow never again to allow a bad planning situation to become worse, as happened on Needham Street. Conceivably the presence of residents will spark changes in the ugly and illogical development of the area, but inevitably there must be an even greater financial incentive to sensible planning, resting on a foundation of public control and assistance. Newton must work harder to preserve its affordable housing goals, while overcoming the difficulties of chapter 40B.
Lifelong resident, married 28 Years To Dolores, 3 children (Anthony, Matthew, both in Law School + Deanna, Junior at NNHS. Alderman-at-Large for 26 consecutive years. Chairman Finance Committee 18 years. Member NNHS Task Force. Member Programs /Services , Post Audit Committees. Employed as Vice President of Finance, Newton based National Environmental...
1. Firstly Newton must continue the policy of levying to the limit each year to generate 4 million dollars in revenues. Newton should encourage new growth + recycling of run down residential and commercial properties to generate 1.5 million dollars yearly in new taxes. Employee Health Insurance should be funded 70% City, 30% Employee basis saving on Health care expenses. I would not support trash collection fee. Impose a 2% spending cutback each Spring to generate...
2. Since Avalon Bay's project was a Chapter 40 B Project Planing Department must assist Zoning Board of Appeals in placing reasonable conditions on project. The Needham Street project went relatively smoothly. The Board will deal with a similar Avalon Bay project on RTE 9 Park Inn site and Planning Dept will assist Board. The Board will approve proposed Kessler Woods/ City/ Cornerstones project with input from Planning. I believe the Aldermen do an exceptional job...
I grew-up in Newton and am an Eagle Scout. I served in the offices of our Congressman, Senior Senator, and the White House. I currently serve as a Committee Chief of Staff on Beacon Hill and will be graduating Law School. I am running because I care about Newton's future.
1. Given that the voters will likely not accept an increase in property taxes and/or fees; the budget has been cut drastically last fiscal year; and the Commonwealth is not likely to restore Local Aid cuts in the near future-the only source of new revenue left is controlled commercial development which is taxed at 172% of the residential rate. However, protection of neighborhoods, especially concerning increased traffic and community character, must be our first priority.
2. We need to dictate the form of future developments rather than simply react to proposals. We have developable locations such as the IPC site behind Needham Street-and both City officials and members of the community need to recognize that on such sites we may not be able prevent all development. We can, however, have significant influence on the size and substance of development if we engage sooner rather than later.
Alderman-at-Large since 1987. 100% attendance at Board meetings. Chair, Zoning and Planning Committee. Member, Community Preservation, Public Facilities and Re-use Committees. Master of Urban Affairs, B.U.; B.A. Boston College. Graduate, Newton Public Schools (South, Meadowbrook, Emerson). Sponsored measures to control overdevelopment, protect the environment, and to encourage historic preservation and...
1. I sponsored Newton's Million Solar Roofs Program and successfully advocated for new State Alternative Energy Trust revenues to pay for solar energy and energy conservation measures in the Newton South Renovation. They will reduce future energy expenditures. Similar alternative energy and energy conservation revenues should be sought to cut energy expenditures at as many city buildings as possible. We should increase city hotel tax revenues by increasing area tourism and the usage of Newton hotels...
2. The Zoning Board of Appeals, not the Aldermen, approved the development under Chapter 40B of the General Laws which left little choice. Avalon paid all the design costs for the Street reconstruction as well as the costs of the new light and will subsidize the affordable housing from others' rent. Nevertheless, the high density emphasizes that our fate is not in our hands. The Zoning Act must be changed to allow communities to control their densities...
A Newton resident since 1980, I have served on the Board of Aldermen since 1986 and chaired its Land Use Committee since 1988. I also co-chair the Public Buildings Preservation Task Force. I am both a manager and an attorney, with an M.B.A. from BU and a J.D. from Suffolk.
1. Any increase in revenues or decrease in expenses places additional burdens on Newton citizens. Without substantial state aid, the City's principal mechanisms for raising revenue are taxation and imposition of fees. Substantial decreases in expenses require reductions in workforce or services, both of which are undesirable to particular constituencies. There is always room for efficiency improvements, such as departmental consolidations, but the City's priorities ultimately are set by the Mayor, not the Board of Aldermen.
2. Avalon Bay brought affordable housing to Newton at a tremendous price. Built as a Chapter 40B project outside the Special Permit process, it is oversized and out of character with the City. We have yet to feel the full effect on schools, traffic, and infrastructure. The lesson of Avalon Bay is to anticipate future development of the City's remaining large parcels and modify zoning to encourage desirable uses under controls that minimize impact.
I have lived in Newton for over 12 years. My wife and I have 3 children attending Newton Public school. I am a dentist in private practice specializing in periodontics. I am also an Assistant Professor in periodontics at Boston University.
1. City revenue is primarily comprised of collection of fees and taxes and financial support from state and federal government. I would not support increasing taxes or additional fees at this time, as it will place too great a burden on our senior citizens and others. I do not anticipate a significant increase in revenue (other than the usual increase provided by Proposition 2 1/2). The government of Newton needs to operate within its means.
2. Newton lost an important opportunity to partner with private industry to relieve the auto congestion on Needham Street. The city turned down Stop and Shop and opted instead to allow major construction of condominium units. Most people were surprised at the size and scope of the project. As a result we have more auto congestion, increased number of children in already overcrowded schools, and no funding to fix these problems. We could have done better.
I have served as an Aldermen for twelve years, during which time I have worked for: excellence in our schools, open space preservation, tree protection, recycling expansion, improved City services, senior and affordable housing, equitable treatment of City employees...
1. User fees tend to be regressive and inefficient. In the long term, I would like to see the property tax replaced by a local income tax, but in the meantime the best way to raise revenue is to request that voters override Proposition 2 1/2, as we did last year. We can cut expenses by eliminating redundancies and by investing in maintenance of infrastructure to put off the need for replacement.
2. After we succeeded in preventing a massive retail project from being built on the site, we ended up with housing. The lessons of Avalon Bay are 1) when you say no to a bad project, you sometimes get something better; 2) having a mater plan and zoning that articulates desirable development types can help mitigate the impacts of large-scale development; and 3) we need to protect as much open space in the City as possible.
I run to serve the citizens of Newton bringing experience, commitment, leadership and a consensus building voice. Mother of three, Coordinator of Mathematics Brookline High School, former School Committee member and Chair, Aldermanic Committees: Finance, Public Facilities (Chair), Real Property Reuse, Who's Who in American Women and American Teachers.
1. In these economic times resources are scarce; maintaining services is a challenge. During the past term we purchased city street lights, increased recycling and established a source reduction program to lower costs. New revenue streams are often tied to development; we must be careful that our infrastructure and quality of life do not suffer. Education is a civic responsibility; renovating our high schools remains a priority. We must balance our needs against available resources.
2. Avalon Bay did not receive a permit through the Board of Aldermen. They were able to bypass the Board process by applying for and receiving a Comprehensive Grant under the state statute 40B. The Special Permit process 40A allows the Board to consider community input to the extent permitted by law.
David Shein is married with three children. He completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at Boston University and practices internal medicine at MIT Medical. Dr. Shein is running to bring effective change to Newton government, to focus on getting value from our current tax dollars. Please visit www.DavidShein.org.
1. A central fiscal issue in this campaign is value. Newton does not have a revenue problem. Fiscal Year 2003 budget calls for $189,955,607 in total taxes; a 23% increase over FY-1999 total taxes of $154,273,691. This increase represents more than double the inflation rate! We must effectively change how our hard earned money is being spent. We need better long-term planning and a focus on value -- getting the best for our money.
2. Avalon Bay was developed on this already congested street. The city promised to address this longstanding traffic problem, but its approach was inadequate. In the end, the city was not able to provide sound direction for development on this site. For effective change, Newton must create a clear vision for the future. We must implement long-range strategic planning, incorporate neighborhood input and require equitable contributions to our community & infrastructure from developers.
Retired attorney-partner, Foley Hoag LLP. 31-year Newton resident with three children educated in the Newton Public Schools. Alderman, 1982-91, Board president, 1988-91. School Committeeman, 1994-2001, Committee chair, 2000-01. I seek this office to apply my experience in, and knowledge of, Newton government to the difficult issues that confront the city.
1. Some revenue-increase possibilities: seeking a change in the state-aid formula to increase Newton's state-aid share; increasing building-permit fees; and charging developers land-use review fees that recover the city's full reviewing cost. To decrease city expenses the city should explore ways to maintain services through cost-saving efficiencies from combining city departments such as the Inspectional Services and Planning Departments, from combining additional functions of city government and the School Department, and from enhanced use of technology.
2. The basic lesson of Avalon Bay is that unless the city exercises a more creative role in new development, an aggressive developer will opt under state law to develop under a comprehensive permit, over which the city has no control. There is currently a proposal for such a development by Avalon Bay at the Park-Inn site off Route 9. A thirty-citizen Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee is doing valuable work to avoid future Avalon Bays.
BSA from Bentley College; married with two children, resident 11 yrs, accountant in the construction field for 25 yrs. I chose to run for Alderman-at-Large to achieve more neighborhood involvement and representation. My decisions will be based on what is best for the residents and to fight any tax increases.
1. Newton needs not a tax increase but expense decrease. No more large developments like Avalon Bay in the name of increased tax base. We need to scrutinize, line by line, the City budget. I feel the school budget can be trimmed by employing the philosophy, "Back to Basics"e; meaning our tax dollar goes to education, (learning).
2. Concerning Avalon Bay: This project should have had as much coverage as NNH. The planning and development were done at the executive level and not in conjunction with the neighborhood's concerns. This is what I want to end. There needs to be discussions at all levels of concern.
First-term alderman; vice-chair, Land Use Committee; thirty-year resident; environmental and urban planning consultant; former chair, Newton's Economic Development Commission. Former Deputy Director, Boston Redevelopment Authority. Seeks re-election to balance development and neighborhood protection; secure financing to reconstruct Newton North; increase affordable housing; and protect scarce open spaces such as Kessler...
1. Reasonable new commercial development along Route 9's Chestnut Hill or Needham Street enhances revenues. Cost savings through elimination of duplication saves on administrative and hourly costs. For example, Parks Department staff snowplows around public buildings and schools. Utilizing the city's snowplowing contractor to plow would reduce costs. Department consolidation's such as Public Works with Parks and Recreation could also reduce administrative costs although if not done carefully could lead to unintended service disruptions.
2. Avalon Bay has provided 75 new affordable out of its total 300 units, and helped towards our 10% overall state-affordable target. Unforeseen results are more Needham Street traffic, and possible overburdening of Countryside elementary school with new kids. We have learned that residential uses need a lot of services (including a supermarket) not available on Needham Street, and apartments may pose difficulties for our schools.
Richard A. Lipof seeks his fifth term on the Board. Richard is the owner of Lipof Real Estate Services in West Newton, a real estate appraisal and brokerage firm. Richard and his wife Janice have two daughters, Jennifer and Sydney. He is seeking re-election because he enjoys serving his community.
1. Our tax base is basically fixed due to Proposition 2 1/2, and I don't agree with creating new user fees. To increase city revenues we must decrease expenses by making the tough cuts in spending. Due to state and federal cuts, the Mayor will have to trim back spending while at the same time striving to provide the same level of services to every citizen. I cannot get more specific in only 75 words.
2. The approval of Avalon Bay on Needham Street was via a comprehensive permit, which usurps the City's authority. Some may feel that the size of the development is too large. To me, the impact of size is outweighed by the impact of traffic on Needham Street. The 294 apartments will bring 800 new cars per day as opposed to 8,000 cars that a Super Stop & Shop would have added to the street.