Newton will vote in November on cutting size of council

Newton voters in November will decide on a proposed charter that would shrink the size of their city council and put the election of every board member to a citywide ballot.

The city’s charter commission in May recommended voters approve a new charter, with the goal of making city government more responsive and improving public participation in city issues. On Monday, the city council voted to add the charter question to Newton’s Nov. 7 ballot.

The text will ask voters “Shall the City of Newton approve the new home rule charter recommended by the Charter Commission . . . ?”


If the proposed charter is approved by voters, effective with the November 2019 municipal election, Newton’s city council will be reduced from 24 members to 12.

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The proposed charter would also replace the current system that assigns three council seats to each of the city’s eight wards. Instead, each ward would be represented by one councilor who is a resident of that ward.

The remaining four councilors may live anywhere in the city, under the proposal.

The proposed charter would also put all council seats to a citywide vote. Currently, eight of the council’s 24 members are elected by only residents of the wards they represent.

Councilors would be limited to serve eight consecutive two-year terms. The proposed charter would also impose a limit of three consecutive four-year terms for the mayor’s office.


In 2015, Newton voters approved the creation of a nine-member charter commission to review and propose changes to the city’s charter. According to the commission’s report, the existing charter has not undergone any comprehensive review since it was adopted in 1971.

The commission’s final report is available at www.newtonma.gov/civicax/filebank/documents/82558

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