Ward Representation and Local Democracy

What makes Newton special are our villages, our neighborhood schools, and most importantly, the people who are the fabric of our great community. Each of our wards are very different — in their ethnic and economic diversity. Each deserves to have their issues, concerns, and needs addressed by someone who has first-hand knowledge about living in the Ward and someone who is directly accountable to them. Our current system provides that direct representation by requiring each ward to elect their own voice in government.

Elimination of Ward councilors creates a barrier for political participation. It makes it difficult for a citizen who is not within an established political group or does not have deep pockets to run for a seat on the Council. A system where a councilor is elected by the Ward only makes it easier for someone with work or family commitments to enter public office and expands the universe of folks we should encourage to be active in local government.

Elimination of Ward only elected Councilors leaves our community vulnerable to becoming governed by a group which does not reflect our community’s diversity or a group who has an agenda. Under the proposed system, there is no guarantee that the views of a given ward, village or neighborhood will be represented. A residency requirement for an at-large Councilor does not guarantee that the Ward’s preferred candidate will be elected. In fact, under the proposed new Charter, a Councilor could lose the support of the Ward in which he or she resides and still be elected by the rest of the City. If that were to happen, where
is that Ward’s representation?

That’s why I adamantly support LOCAL DEMOCRACY — maintaining our voice in local government and why I urge you to vote NO on the Charter Commission’s recommendation to eliminate Ward only elected representation. For more information, please visit newtondemocracy.org