Dear Neighbors and Friends,
The Board of RightSize Newton has spent the last few days digesting the results of the election held on Tuesday.
First, we want to thank everyone who helped out in this election: the candidates and their families, the Meet-and-Greet hosts; the yard sign hosts; the donors; the volunteers who canvassed, delivered signs, literature and made phone calls; the campaign staff; the database managers; and not least, the City Clerk’s Office and the hundreds of people who staffed the polling places. All these people and activities are essential for every election. The goal, of course, is to give voters a choice regarding who should lead Newton until the next election.
In some elections you have more success than in others. The results of this one were decidedly mixed.
All the incumbents -- the mayor and every member of the city council -- were re-elected. In contested races, we endorsed incumbent city councilors Pam Wright, John Oliver, and Julia Malakie. We thank them for their continued willingness to serve our city in elected office. It is worth recognizing that John Oliver was the highest vote-getter of anyone running for any office, receiving 11,669 votes.
We endorsed a number of challengers who regrettably all lost.
Does this mean that Newton is happy with its elected leadership and supports the direction the city council is taking on development, zoning, and other issues? As we look at the results, we don’t see it that way.
The two challengers we endorsed for at-large seats, Rena Getz and Lisa Gordon, came close to winning seats on the city council. Rena fell short by 172 votes and Lisa fell short by 798 votes. Those are strong showings given how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent. If they choose to run in the future, they will be formidable candidates.
Similarly, in the mayoral election, Amy Mah Sangiolo made a strong showing losing by 1,508 votes. This is the closest election involving an incumbent mayor since 1997 when David Cohen unseated Mayor Thomas Concannon.
The theory that “Newton voters are content with the current leadership” also ignores the results of the special election last March when both candidates we supported, John Oliver and Tarik Lucas, were elected by substantial margins.
We congratulate all the incumbents who were re-elected and we look forward to working with them to create a better Newton. However, we continue to be concerned that Newton is being over-developed. We hope that our elected officials will reconsider the direction of zoning redesign being discussed by the council and will be cautious when considering development proposals that create greater density than the surrounding neighborhood. There are many other strategies we can agree on to address important issues such as housing affordability and reducing our collective carbon footprint.
We thank all those voters who supported the candidates we endorsed. We look forward to engaging the general public so that we can try to forge a consensus regarding the development and zoning issues that will help shape Newton’s future.
On Behalf of the RSN Board