Amy Mah Sangiolo, a longtime veteran of Newton government who served for 20 years as an alderwoman and city councilor, will challenge Mayor Ruthanne Fuller in the fall election, according to a statement released Wednesday night.
Sangiolo, a lifelong Democrat, is an attorney and environmental activist, according to her statement, and works as a consumer specialist in the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. If elected, Sangiolo would become the first Asian American woman to serve as Newton’s mayor.
“Newton needs a leader who will bring transparency and accountability to local government and unite the city to move Newton forward,” Sangiolo said in the statement.
The city needs to address zoning with real community engagement and resident buy-in, Sangiolo said, and implement a strategy to create more affordable housing, address community needs while being fiscally responsible. Newton must also strengthen relationships with city and school employees, build a greener future for the city’s children, and take care of its seniors, she said.
She also pledged to “restore city-wide confidence” in the city’s schools and improve the system.
“In the coming months, I will be meeting many of you and listening to your concerns,” Sangiolo said. “Together, we can build a better Newton.”
Sangiolo’s campaign is expected to invigorate the city’s mayoral race, which already included Fuller and another challenger, Albert Cecchinelli.
Sangiolo, a councilor-at-large who was elected 10 times from the city’s Ward 4, ran in a crowded seven-candidate field in 2017 to succeed former Mayor Setti Warren, who did not seek reelection that year.
That group of candidates included Fuller, then a Ward 7 councilor-at-large, Cecchinelli, as well as former City Council president Scott Lennon.
In that year’s preliminary election, Sangiolo came in third place behind Fullerand Lennon. The two finalists later appeared on the city’s 2017 general election ballot, and Fuller was picked as the city’s next mayor.
Fuller has a significant fundraising advantage over both her challengers: The mayor currently has about $185,000 in her campaign coffers, according to state records. Sangiolo still has about $3,300 left over from her 2017 campaign, while Cecchinelli has just shy of $500.
Sangiolo said Wednesday she had pulled nomination papers from the city clerk’s office. Nomination papers are due back to the city clerk Tuesday, July 27.
Fuller, who has declared she would seek a second term, has already had her nomination signatures certified, according to the city clerk’s office.
Sangiolo, who grew up in New Jersey, is a graduate of Barnard College and Rutgers Law School, and attended the Juilliard School of Music, according to a biography posted to her website.
After law school, she moved to the Washington, D.C. area and worked for several environmental nonprofits, including the National Wildlife Federation, where she worked on passage of then-US Senator John Kerry’s reform of the National Flood Insurance Program, the biography said.
She is the founder of the Asian American Democrats of Massachusetts and has served on the community advisory boards of WGBH and the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and served in several local organizations, including as vice president of the Newton Democratic City Committee.
Sangiolo and her husband, John, are parents of three Newton public school graduates, according to her statement.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.