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Who are the City Council candidates in Newton’s Ward 2?

In the local ward race, Bryan Barash seeks to replace Ward 2 Councilor Emily Norton. Ward 2 at-large challengers Jennifer Bentley and Tarik Lucas will face councilors-at-large Jake Auchincloss and Susan Albright. Auchincloss is also running as a candidate for the Fourth Congressional District.

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.

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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 2 COUNCILOR RACE

Ward 2 councilor candidates Emily Norton, left, and Bryan Barash.
Ward 2 councilor candidates Emily Norton, left, and Bryan Barash. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Emily Norton

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 51

Village: Newtonville

Position sought: Ward 2 Ward Councilor (Incumbent)

Profession: Executive Director, Charles River Watershed Association

Why are you running for City Council?

To continue to serve Ward 2 by advocating for more attractive and safer village centers, village scale development, safer roads and sidewalks, expanded tree canopy, better public transit, excellent schools, support for seniors, and more progress toward addressing our $1B unfunded liability.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

It would not be appropriate to express support or opposition on this project prior to our vote because when we are voting on special permits we do so as a quasi judicial authority, which means like a judge I do not want to express an opinion prior to the evidence/proposal being formally presented to the council.

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

Pass legislation to build Newton’s climate resiliency because climate change is bringing extreme weather in the form of extreme heat, drought and flooding. We must expand our tree canopy, replace impermeable surface with natural ground cover, and protect and expand open space.

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

I believe we should partner more with nonprofit developers so that we get more housing that is actually affordable, and also pressure MassDOT to improve our public transit so that new residents are less likely to increase our traffic and congestion woes.

Bryan Barash

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 36

Village: Newtonville

Position sought: Ward 2 Councilor

Profession: General Counsel to State Sen. President Emerita Harriette Chandler

Why are you running for City Council?

I am an experienced public policy professional and advocate dedicated to improving our community. My priorities: improving transportation & roads, promoting walkability & bikeability, creating affordable housing, responding to climate change, green buildings, being a welcoming community to people from different backgrounds.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

Councilors cannot prejudge special permit applications, but there is broad agreement that Riverside, on the T and Route 128, is ideal for much-needed housing and commercial space. The Council must ensure that traffic concerns are well addressed before evaluating Riverside.

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Northland:

Northland is another underutilized site where development would provide housing and grow our commercial tax base, but it has less access to transportation options than Riverside. We must be especially careful to address already-difficult traffic on Needham and Oak streets.

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

We must make the Newton City Council more transparent. I support making all votes available online in an easy to digest format, requiring transcripts for City Council meetings, clearer public comment policies, and an enforceable municipal lobbying ordinance.

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

With smart planning, we can add housing people can afford AND get around Newton more effectively and safely than now. There is much we can do to improve our roads, traffic signals & markings, and to make non-driving options more attractive.

WARD 2 AT-LARGE COUNCILOR RACE

Newton Ward 2 councilor-at-large candidates (clockwise from top left) Susan S. Albright, Tarik J. Lucas, Jacob Daniel Auchincloss, and Jennifer Bentley.
Newton Ward 2 councilor-at-large candidates (clockwise from top left) Susan S. Albright, Tarik J. Lucas, Jacob Daniel Auchincloss, and Jennifer Bentley. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Susan S. Albright

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 71

Village: My postal address is Newton Centre, my elective address is in Ward 2.

Position sought: Ward 2 Councilor-at-large (Incumbent)

Profession: Principal, M:Ed:Integrate, which provides information technology to medical schools around the world

Why are you running for City Council?

I want to continue bringing an evidence-based approach to solving Newton’s challenges and preserve our tradition of greatness. I care about economically challenged citizens, strong schools, preserving open space, economic development, providing diverse housing options, and seriously addressing climate change.

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Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

On Counsel advice, councilors act in a judicial role on land use petitions and should not prejudge a petition prior to the conclusion of public hearings; only commenting during public hearings and meetings to preserve the fairness of the process.

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

Climate change mitigation actions are the keys to our future and this relates to environmental and form-based zoning, housing creation in walkable village centers, public transportation upgrades and enhancements, and incentives for citizens and commerce to upgrade to renewable electricity.

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

We must both increase housing and commerce and preserve our beautiful neighborhoods by channeling growth to appropriate areas with proper planning. Newton cannot maintain strong schools and services without growing our tax base already too dependent on residential taxes.

Jennifer Bentley

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 45

Village: West Newton

Position sought: Ward 2 Councilor-at-large

Profession: Director of Marketing

Why are you running for City Council?

I am running because I love Newton and want to ensure it stays a culturally diverse, welcoming, and affordable City. I am concerned about the current speed and scale of development in Newton, and want to negotiate directly with developers on behalf of resident stakeholders.

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Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

The parcel at Riverside should be developed, but the overall size of the project is too big for the neighborhood. I would like to see revisions to the height and setback requirements to promote a streetscape, consistent with what the neighbors want.

Northland:

Northland is another good opportunity to create more affordable housing in Newton, but I’m concerned that the size of this project will create an even bigger traffic issue on Needham and Oak Streets; reducing available on-site parking will not resolve this issue.

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

With my knowledge of the building industry, I want to play an integral role in the zoning redesign process. I would incentivize affordable housing options, such as accessory apartments and non-profit developer projects to provide workforce housing for Newton residents.

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

City Councilors should advocate for a thoughtful, holistic approach to all of the proposed developments with the goal of benefitting our existing neighborhoods and residents. This plan should address increasing affordable housing options, and weigh the impact of new developments on schools, infrastructure and roads.

Tarik J. Lucas

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 37

Village: Newtonville

Position sought: Ward 2 Councilor-at-large

Profession: Royalty Specialist at Harvard University Press

Why are you running for City Council?

I’m concerned over the size and speed of the developments that have been built, and the ones that are proposed to be built. Additionally, we need a City Council that governs as representatives or delegates, and not as appointed trustees.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

I fully support the zoning amendments to the site that were submitted by the Lower Falls Improvement Association. Their zoning amendments would make for a better development, especially for the residents of Lower Falls and Auburndale.

Northland:

The 800 residential units for the site is too big. I would be in favor of either reducing the number of housing units or phasing in the project in stages to see if the transportation management plan is effective.

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

We need more transparency in our government and from our elected officials. Easier access for all elected official’s voting records on the City’s website. I would ask all elected officials to put their voting records on their own political websites.

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

I would like to establish the middle ground. As well as finding out what the community wants. Then implement a fair vision plan to create more housing. Additionally, private for-profit developers should pay impact fees to offset the City’s costs.

Jacob Daniel Auchincloss

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 31

Village: Newtonville

Position sought: Ward 2 Councilor-at-large (Incumbent)

Profession: Manager, innovation lab at Liberty Mutual

Why are you running for City Council?

I was born and educated in Newton, and this city taught me to value public service. After graduating Harvard, I served my country as a Marine officer. Serving my hometown as a city councilor is just as important and fulfilling.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

I support a walkable development at Riverside that creates more affordable housing and enhances the tax base. As I did for Northland, I will be the most assertive negotiator on the council in ensuring the developer enacts nation-leading traffic-control measures.

Northland:

Northland offers senior and affordable housing, tax revenues, and upgrades for infrastructure. Traffic is the key issue. As a councilor, I have led from the front on traffic, negotiating stringent measures that require the developer to reduce car trips.

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

Traffic in Greater Boston is the worst in the nation. The city council has traditionally not led on transportation. I want to lead from the front, by setting, aligning on, and then enacting a comprehensive transportation agenda.

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

Well-planned development makes villages more walkable and creates a more diverse housing stock. Negative impacts come chiefly from poor traffic management and bad design. I negotiate strict traffic-control measures with developers; the state needs to help by investing in transportation.


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