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Who are the City Council candidates in Newton’s Ward 6?

At-large challenger Alicia Bowman campaigns to replace either Greg Schwartz or Victoria Danberg, the ward’s incumbent at-large councilors. In the local ward councilor race, Lisa Gordon is facing Ward 6 Councilor Brenda Noel.

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 6 WARD COUNCILOR

Ward 6 councilor candidates Brenda Noel, left, and Lisa Gordon.
Ward 6 councilor candidates Brenda Noel, left, and Lisa Gordon.CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Brenda Noel

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 48

Village: Newton Highlands/Newton Centre

Position sought: Ward 6 councilor (Incumbent)

Profession: Social Worker, currently the Executive Director of NWW Committee (nwwcommittee.org) an organization that provides housing and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Why are you running for City Council?

Active participation in the democratic process is the most effective way to build a strong community. Being able to bring the Ward 6 voter perspective to the council and debate issues with a diverse set of colleagues is hugely rewarding and I’m honored to have received endorsements from 2/3 of the council to date.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

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actively pending before the council so cannot comment

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

Addressing the climate crisis by pushing for “car lite” projects is essential. I’m committed to constituents’ needs and take leadership on issues Ward 6 cares about. I’m the first in Ward 6 to hold office hours and distribute a newsletter, ensuring all voices are heard.

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

My constituents believe that housing is the key to mitigating climate change, addressing transportation and traffic and ensuring Newton retains its vibrancy and diversity. I’m a proponent of mixed-use transit-oriented development, which combines a mix of retail, residential, work, and open space in transit orientated locations.

Lisa Gordon

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 51

Village: Newton Centre/Newton Highlands

Position sought: Ward 6 councilor

Profession: Executive Director of Responsible Retailing Forum

Why are you running for City Council?

We are in a time of crisis, requiring bold action to reduce our carbon footprint and preserve open space. Let’s reverse short-sighted policies that add to traffic and pollution while reducing affordability and fiscal sustainability. Newton deserves accountable, responsive representation.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

Opposed. As proposed, it would (1) contribute to global warming and increase air pollution; (2) undermine our commercial tax base, jeopardizing the revenue stream needed for schools and other services; and (3) harm quality of life by exacerbating traffic problems.

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Northland:

Opposed. As proposed, it would (1) contribute to global warming and increase air pollution; (2) undermine our commercial tax base, jeopardizing the revenue stream needed for schools and other services; and (3) harm quality of life by exacerbating traffic problems

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

I would think globally and act locally by (1) requiring all new residential special permit development to meet the passive house standard and include solar panels; (2) switching the City’s fleet to electric vehicles; and (3) replacing fossil-fuel burning HVAC systems in municipal buildings with electric heat-pump systems powered by clean electricity.

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

(1) Protect naturally affordable housing, rather than tearing it down and replacing it with luxury housing and (2) require special permit development to include at least 25% affordable units. Newton needs more affordable housing, not more luxury housing and traffic.

WARD 6 AT-LARGE COUNCILOR RACE

Newton Ward 6 councilor-at-large candidates, from left, Victoria Danberg, Greg Schwartz, and Alicia Bowman.
Newton Ward 6 councilor-at-large candidates, from left, Victoria Danberg, Greg Schwartz, and Alicia Bowman.CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Victoria Danberg

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 72

Village: Newton Centre

Position sought: Ward 6 Councilor-at-large (Incumbent)

Profession: Administrative Health Care Manager

Why are you running for City Council?

I have worked hard to merit the honor of serving you since 2004. I will work to welcome all, increase housing options for our seniors, workers and young people and encourage a sustainable future for all residents.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

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Riverside:

The Riverside location offers the opportunity for mixed-use transit oriented development with a substantial affordable housing component, retail amenities and energy efficient design. Revisions have substantially reduced project size and traffic impact to produce a workable project.

Northland:

This project provides needed housing options, commitment to sustainability, public shuttle transport, under-grounding of utilities and parking, vehicle & bike sharing and community open space. I support it over its by-right commercial alternative that would create more traffic.

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

The future is coming! We must plan for it, not react to it. Newton’s zoning code is undergoing needed revision for the first time in 30 years. My goal is to respect Newton’s past and serve its future.

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

Traffic impacts are the greatest challenge of development. Facing the 22nd century, we must encourage housing near transportation and retail amenities to reduce auto use, work to improve public transit service and incentivize alternative transportation options.

Greg Schwartz

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 52

Village: Newton Highlands

Position sought: Councilor at Large Ward 6 (Incumbent)

Profession: Physician

Why are you running for City Council?

Maintain strong schools (renovations and rebuilds), promote public health and safety (safe sidewalks, more bike lanes, restrictions on vaping), improve environment (energy conservation) and public spaces (fields, parks, woods). Build more affordable and senior housing, preserve neighborhoods.

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Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside:

Voted for original proposal to build 290 units; this one is three times bigger and needs to enhance connections with Lower Falls and Auburndale. Love the improvements to river access, but needs more open space within project as well.

Northland:

In favor of more housing but concerned about worsening horrendous traffic on Needham Street. Need to limit car trips generated by the project, not convinced shuttle plan will succeed. In favor of no cap on developer payments to reduce traffic.

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

Want to get the city to commit to a short and long term plan to upgrade athletic fields and achieve the high standards of comparable communities; to reduce risk of injuries and improve experience of youth athletes and families.

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

Need to maximize needed housing — affordable, medium income, and senior — while limiting impact on city services. More accessory units, more city sponsored affordable projects, and more small “naturally affordable” units.

Alicia Bowman

Age on Election Day (Nov. 5): 54

Village: Newton Centre

Position sought: Ward 6 City Councilor-at-large

Profession: President of Bike Newton

Why are you running for City Council?

As an advocate in Newton for more than 15 years I am concerned about the critical, complicated and time-sensitive issues facing Newton including housing, transportation, and climate change. We need more leaders willing and able to do the hard work of determining what should be done, to build consensus and to act strategically.

Explain why you either support or oppose the following proposals:

Riverside and Northland:

I cannot comment on any project I may have to vote on if elected, as special permits are a semi-judicial process. I think completing the Riverside Greenway -- a set of paths connecting Lower Falls to Riverside through to Auburndale with recreational paths and transportation connections -- is important for the entire area.

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

Work with city departments and fellow councilors to develop an actionable, five-year plan to increase the number of walking, biking and transit trips in support of meeting critical climate goals, including reducing CO2 by 50 percent within 11 years.

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

Newton has a housing crisis. We have a responsibility to seniors, people with disabilities, low income families, our adult children, people who work in Newton to address it. Development can be mitigated by locating near transit, working with developers to help fund infrastructure upgrades and to reduce traffic, and creating shared public spaces within the development.


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