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Who are the City Council candidates in Newton’s Ward 5?

Former city alderman Paul Coletti is running for a Ward 5 at-large seat against incumbent councilors Andreae Downs and Deborah Crossley.

Ward 5 Councilor John Rice is not running for reelection. Bill Humphrey and Kathryn Winters are on the Nov. 5 ballot after becoming the top two finishers in a September preliminary election. Humphrey had the most votes in that election, with 491 votes, while Winters had 484.

The other candidate in that election — Rena Getz — came within 50 votes of Winters, with 437 votes. Getz will not appear on the ballot, and has launched a write-in campaign for the seat.

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With voters preparing to cast their ballots in the Nov. 5 municipal election, the Globe sent questionnaires last month to every City Council candidate about a range of topics.

On Sept. 19, Newton city solicitor Alissa Ocasio Giuliani advised city councilors that they should not respond to the Globe’s questions regarding whether they supported or opposed two mixed-use developments now under review by the City Council — a 524-unit proposal at the Riverside MBTA station and an 800-unit project at the corner of Needham and Oak streets in Upper Falls.

A copy of Ocasio Giuliani’s written opinion is here, and a Globe report on the issue is here.

When candidates used the same language to respond to separate questions about the two projects, their responses were condensed into a single answer.

WARD 5 COUNCILOR RACE

From left, Newton Ward 5 city councilor candidates Kathryn K. Winters, Rena L. Getz, and William Humphrey.
From left, Newton Ward 5 city councilor candidates Kathryn K. Winters, Rena L. Getz, and William Humphrey. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Kathryn K. Winters

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 49

Village: Waban

Position sought: Ward 5 city councilor

Profession: Attorney

Why are you running for City Council?

I believe I can be an effective ward representative who gets things done and moves Newton forward on the important issues facing us: improved roads and sidewalks, smart development with infrastructure planning, and municipal action to confront climate change.

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Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

The Riverside site presents an opportunity to grow our commercial tax base and to build needed housing next to the T. But we have to strike a balance in the process and take into account neighborhood concerns about traffic.

Northland:

There are some great aspects to the project. Traffic in surrounding neighborhoods is the big concern, and the traffic demand management requirements have to have teeth. Also, we should have negotiated an option for school space at the site.

If elected, what is one specific action you’d like to accomplish during your new term and why?

Zoning reform. We are on our back foot when it comes to development (from large developments to single-family teardowns). Let’s implement guidelines for the Newton of tomorrow, so that developers can react to our vision and not vice versa.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

Thoughtfully. The region needs more housing, and we need to grow our tax base. But we should listen to neighborhood concerns and find ways to mitigate and compromise. And we have to plan for school enrollment and infrastructure needs.

Rena Getz

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 61

Village: Waban

Position sought: Ward 5 Ward Councilor (write-in candidate)

Profession: Scientist

Why are you running for City Council?

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As an elected official, I will be the voice of Ward 5. I will enact legislation that respects current residents yet creates a sustainable and equitable Newton for future generations, utilizing my knowledge of city governance and public service experience.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

I do not support the current Riverside proposal. As a special permit, Newton can permit a build that contributes meaningfully to the real housing stock need in number and affordability levels at DHCD rental standards, require complete new-build sustainability standards, and better integration with abutting residential neighborhoods.

Northland:

I do not support the current Northland proposal. As a special permit consideration, Newton can require the developer to provide real “last mile” Mass Transit mitigation, additional housing at DHCD rental standards in number and affordability levels, complete new-build sustainability standards, and an abutter respectful residential density.

If elected, what is one specific action you want to accomplish during your new term, and why?

Activate portals for transparency and meaningful residential participation in city governance, land use planning and the proposed new zoning code. Newton residents are the city’s most important stakeholders and need to be active participants early in the legislative decision-making process.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

By permitting and truly fulfilling the need for housing that is “naturally” affordable at market rate and built to sustainability standards while being respectful of the existing built environment, historic resources, environs, and the current tax-paying residents.

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William Humphrey

Age on Election Day: 28

Village: Waban

Position sought: Ward 5 Councilor

Profession: Digital Media

Why are you running for City Council?

I’m running for City Council to make sure Newton is a community for everyone and to prioritize council action on climate change and affordable housing.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

I answered your other questions in order, but I’m sure you have heard by now from some of the sitting councilors that nobody is *legally* supposed to be answering questions on whether or not they support or oppose a special permit application before the end of the process because if they make a statement either way before the end of the process, they have to recuse themselves on the vote or the city could face lawsuits.

If elected, what is one specific action you want to accomplish during your new term, and why?

The first task of any level of government anywhere in the world now must be addressing climate change, and I want to make sure that we’re implementing and accelerating our climate action plans to get us off fossil fuels.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

The net impact of growth in Newton, particularly additional housing within walking distance of village centers, will be to revitalize and expand our tax base and local business community. As long as we’re negotiating to make the growth work for us, we should be fine, and I’m looking forward to welcoming our new neighbors.

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WARD 5 AT-LARGE COUNCILOR RACE

Newton Ward 5 councilor-at-large candidates, from left, Deborah Jean Crossley, Andreae Downs, and Paul Edward Coletti.
Newton Ward 5 councilor-at-large candidates, from left, Deborah Jean Crossley, Andreae Downs, and Paul Edward Coletti.CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Deborah Jean Crossley

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 65

Village: Newton Upper Falls

Position sought: Ward 5 Councilor at-large (Incumbent)

Profession: Architect/ private practice

Why are you running for City Council?

I have enjoyed improving stewardship of the public resources entrusted to our care, built and natural environments we share, and working to ensure the continued health and well-being of our community. There is much more work ahead!

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

The Law Department advises: Newton Councilors act in a judicial role on land use petitions; we should not prejudge petitions prior to concluding public hearings, and comment only in the public realm. This is to preserve a fair process.

If elected, what is one specific action you want to accomplish during your new term, and why?

Complete zoning redesign to facilitate the balanced vision in our comprehensive plan: multifamily housing and shops near transit, a clear framework describing a sustainable, resilient, clean-energy community accessible to everyone, while instituting controls to thwart oversized building in neighborhoods.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

The unprecedented housing crisis begs a master plan supporting diverse, accessible housing concentrated in walkable mixed use centers near public transit, creating places where people can enjoy community life - to reduce car trips, protect green space.

Andreae Downs

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 58

Village: Waban

Position sought: Ward 5 Councilor at-large (Incumbent)

Profession: Director, Wastewater Advisory Committee to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Previously—journalist.

Why are you running for City Council?

I am running for reelection because there is still a lot of work to do to keep Newton a welcoming, economically diverse city, and to prepare for the environmental and economic future we likely face.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

I am keeping an open mind. Beyond that, I can’t answer. This is before council as a special permit, which is a semi-judicial process.

If elected, what is one specific action you want to accomplish during your new term, and why?

My focus has been on making our streets and sidewalks safer for all users. I am also very interested in getting the city out of the business of determining the amount and price of parking to provide—that can better be done by the market.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

We have just increased the percentage of affordable housing required in new multi-family developments over a certain size to 17.5%. Development impacts are mostly about traffic —and these can be successfully mitigated by mixing uses, transportation management, and proper placement near transit & services.

Paul Edward Coletti

Age on Election Day: 70

Village: Newton Upper Falls

Position Sought: Ward 5 Councilor at-large

Profession: Retired

Why are you running for City Council?

As a retired alderman at-large, a lifelong resident of Newton, father of three Newton Public Schools graduates, and husband of a 16-year Special Needs Aide at Brown Middle School, and grandfather of two, I am deeply concerned about the direction our leaders are taking our city.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

I am opposed to the project due to the height of the proposed 11 buildings, the over development of the site with 523,000 square feet of office space and 71,000 square feet of retail space. I also want the developer to pay 100% of Real Estate and personal property taxes.

Northland:

I support the project if the height of the buildings is limited and traffic access to Oak Street is minimized or eliminated. As much parking as possible must be underground, drainage and sewer infrastructure must be rebuilt, and funds must be provided to mitigate impacts.

If elected, what is one specific action you want to accomplish during your new term, and why?

I want to return to fundamental financial policies which dictate how the administration and council budgets for collective bargaining, salaries, benefits, and retirement liabilities. I want to impact the strategy for selling municipal bonds to pay off building projects and prevent the need for overrides.

How should Newton balance the need for more housing against the impact of development?

Newton has used the 10% Ordinance as a mechanism to increase affordable housing when developers exceed the density allowed by right on their projects. Economic and market forces are transforming manufacturing and business sites into mixed use projects that include housing. I support a case by case process as projects are approved.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.