Campaign Week-in-Review: 6/28/19 - 3,800 doors, senior issues, private streets

by Izzy Klein, Interim Campaign Organizer | Subscribe by Email

Hello fellow Ward 5 residents! My name is Izzy Klein, and I am signing on as the interim campaign organizer for the next few weeks, while Irina is on vacation. I am a rising senior at Newton South, and I am passionate about politics and community organizing. Last year, I had the privilege of working in both the field and campaign offices as a fellow for Jay Gonzalez and Elizabeth Warren, and I am continuing my political pursuits by helping Bill this summer and doing other local organizing. I look forward to meeting some of you out in the community before the elections this fall.

What you have told us this week on the doors

The summer has begun, school is out, many hearings and local government happenings have slowed down. So, Ward 5 may seem quieter than it has been in some of our recent newsletters. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped building momentum! Bill and our team (i.e. Irina, plus Bill’s friends volunteering) knocked over 400 doors this week. Thus far, as we progress through our second full pass of Ward 5, we’ve knocked over 3,800 doors, about 95% of which Bill has knocked himself.

While we were getting to know more neighbors on the doors this week, many Waban and Upper Falls residents shared concerns affecting their neighborhoods in Ward 5. Affordable housing remains one of the top five topics for Ward 5 voters and was especially popular this week with the voters we spoke to. 

Many voters this past weekend also brought up the issue of the city policies toward "private way" streets. Residents are responsible for the maintenance of these streets, but this is increasingly expensive as various navigation apps encourage more outside people to drive over them to avoid traffic, whether or not that is an appropriate route. The added wear and tear requires more frequent fixes. This is particularly burdensome for private way streets where many residents are lower-income renters, not affluent homeowners, and assembling the neighborhood funds for repairs is a challenge. Residents on these streets, both in Upper Falls and Waban, who have spoken to Bill since the beginning of February have complained about the mounting costs, the city's current policies on these streets, and what they feel is a lack of tax relief despite the added maintenance cost burdens. It may be time for the city to re-examine its policies on these private way streets comprehensively.

Residents in Upper Falls also continue to have questions regarding the details of the proposed Northland development on Needham St, and Bill and the rest of our team heard a wide array of opinions on what should be done or changed. 

Another increasingly frequent topic is the recently released and controversial list of some potential sites for the new senior center. Bill is committed to opposing the use of city parklands, especially sensitive wetlands like Cold Spring Park, for new construction including that use. Bill is confident we can find a different, more appropriate location for a new senior center.

Senior issues on the whole are a key part of Bill’s campaign and we had a lot of conversations about senior life in Newton this week, especially with the recent launch of the new senior rides program. About one-fifth of Newton’s residents are part of our senior population, and this share is only projected to increase in the coming years. Their active presence and engagement in Newton is vital to sustaining our local civil society, and they are critical to building a multi-generational community where everyone is welcome. As Ward Councilor, Bill would:

  • Explore how city government can assist seniors with critical repairs of their homes that they may not be able to do for reasons of financial hardship or physical disability.

  • Continue working toward creating and maintaining senior public spaces, affordable and diverse housing and transit options suited to the challenges of aging, and community activities for our senior population.

  • Champion the expansion of programs that maintain and increase intergenerational engagement.

We’re grateful to have the enthusiastic support of so many senior residents of Ward 5 in this campaign, in addition to the support from many younger residents.

Community Announcements/Notes: 

  • Road work is continuing this week in various points in Ward 5, but especially in Upper Falls at Oak St and Christina St (for the ongoing intersection alignment project) and at Chestnut St and Ellis St. Sidewalks and driveways are affected, in addition to the streets themselves.

  • The Mayor's office reminds everyone this week that some residents' Senior Free Parking Stickers expire this Sunday, June 30. Two-year stickers are available at the Newton Senior Center. Bring a driver's license and car registration info as well as $6 to obtain a new sticker.

  • The Annual Newton 4th of July Celebration is happening this Thursday. According to the city, festivities will start at 1:00 pm, with amusement rides, local business vendor booths, a handmade craft fair and food trucks. At 6:00 pm, the fun will move over to the main stage, with music, dancing, and entertainment from 6-9 pm. The fireworks will start at 9:00 pm.