Sangiolo: Two decades of City Council leadership
After the presidential election in 2016 almost everyone in Newton felt unsettled, said mayoral candidate Amy Sangiolo. It was around that time she started thinking about running: Current Mayor Setti Warren had announced he was not seeking a third term, so it was an open race.
But in the winter she had to fly back and forth to Hawaii to take care of her sick father, who has since passed, and eventually bring her 92-year old mother to live with her in Newton. By the spring, Sangiolo’s candidacy became official. And it has brought a different perspective on issues that the City Council has dealt with for years.
Sangiolo has been on the City Council for 20 years — making her the longest-serving member in the mayoral race.
Sangiolo’s stand on residential development is different than the other two front-runners, City Council members Ruthanne Fuller and Scott Lennon. In June she voted against the Washington Place mixed-use development in Newtonville, citing the project didn’t have the support of abutters and was too large. She did, however, eventually vote in favor of the Austin Street mixed-use project in 2015.
In 2014 Sangiolo proposed a moratorium on teardowns — but this was rejected by City Council. Other councilors assured her there would be zoning reform but there has yet to be any concrete plan, she said. Zoning reforms must be a priority moving forward, she said. During her campaign she has also proposed a municipal housing trust to create affordable housing.
“We have to make sure we have a planning process,” said Sangiolo. “Do we want a three- and four- story building or four- and five-story building?”
Like many of her fellow candidates, she has discussed proactively looking for development locations rather than waiting for the developers to come to the city.
Sangiolo is a proponent of attracting commercial development to Newton. She has also discussed preserving housing as a way to maintain affordability, as opposed to continued development of “McMansions.”
Education is a priority for Sangiolo. All of her children went through the Newton Public Schools, which she said gives her a different perspective and understanding of the system. She said there needs to be more proactive budget planning so the large budget gap (close to $2.7 million) that the school system faced this year won’t happen again.
As for finance, Sangilo said she has been out front asking for accountability. She said the city needs to address the pension and OPEB debt as well as the healthcare coverage provided to city employees.
Throughout her campaign Sangiolo has said she would be in favor of a proposition 2 /1/2 override. She said her first year would be planning for the override and the second year would be executing. While there is no set plan for an override she is looking at a number of issues that may be on the ballot, including unfunded pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) and capital projects that would be through a debt exclusion override.
The environment is a key issue in the Sangiolo campaign. Professionally Sangiolo is a lawyer with an extensive background in working on environmental issues. In addition, she was one of the co-founders of the Charles River Neighborhood Association. Her environmental plan includes working towards a zero-waste model through reducing the amount of waste, increasing the city’s recycling rate, piloting a curbside or drop-off food waste collection program and developing programs at schools to divert waste, according to her official webpage.
“I’m not just saying I’m an environmental person. I’m doing it,” said Sangiolo.
Sangiolo was a leader in getting the plastic bag ban approved in Newton and also supported the leaf blower restrictions.
Other priorities include finding solutions for the local opioid crisis and creating more bike lanes.