Campaign Week-in-Review - 9/20/19: Meet & Greet Tonight at 6; 2 Key Endorsements; Village Day, NewCAL Meeting, Climate Strike

by Irina Costache, Campaign Organizer | Subscribe by Email

Meet & Greet/Organizing Opportunity TONIGHT in Waban

Join Bill tonight at 6 PM for an event building on last week’s victory. The event will be hosted by Ward 5 resident Pia Bertelli in her home in Waban (email us for details). This is also a great opportunity for supporters to plan ways to get involved and reach out peer-to-peer to other voters! No donation of any amount is required to attend, as we are using this event primarily as an opportunity to get to know Bill and to plan how people can help elect him in November.

Even if you’ve already met Bill, now is your chance to find out how you can help in the next several weeks.


New Endorsements

This week, we are happy to announce two new campaign endorsements! The first comes from Ward 1 Councilor-At-Large Alison Leary, an environmental champion in our city and state.

The second is from Marian Leah Knapp, a Writer and Advocate for Seniors: “I strongly support Bill Humphrey for Ward 5 City Councilor. He clearly understands issues that Newton Seniors face and has stated these as priorities. He recognizes that seniors are a large and increasing percent of our population. He advocates for helping seniors stay in the Newton community through: better appropriate and affordable housing and transportation options; a much needed new Senior Center; and ways to avoid isolation and loneliness, a documented concern. Bill has done his homework! I applaud him for that.”


Updates from this past week

  • Despite the results of last week’s preliminary election, the 3rd place candidate has opted to re-join the campaign and will be running as a write-in candidate.

  • This week, Bill went back out to the doors, knocking and getting to hear from Ward 5 voters for the 4th pass during this campaign! Bill has now knocked more than 6,000 doors personally.

1. Upper Falls Village Day

On Sunday, Bill attended Upper Falls Village Day to connect with more voters, and later dropped by a block party in Waban at the invitation of some supporters.

2. Another Ward 5 Candidate Debate

On Wednesday, Bill participated alongside the other two Councilor candidates in a second taping of a Ward 5 candidates debate by NewTV/League of Women Voters. The debate is not available yet to view, but is coming soon. 

3. Upper Falls Area Council Meeting

Bill attended the Upper Falls Area Council’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, where the agenda consisted of a Halloween Activity Proposal, village day recap, Sudbury Aqueduct meeting reminder (next Thursday night at the Waban Library Center at 7 PM!), and an update on Northland from Councilor Downs. Here are some of the issues brought up by community members:

  • One resident reported that there’s a severe water pressure problem on the Cottage St hill that has been fluctuating a lot. She wanted to know if other streets in Newton are experiencing this problem too. Area Council member Maxine Bridger said that this is also a problem on Champa St, off of Cottage St. The Department of Public Works has been looking into the issue this week and trying to figure out if there is a pipe problem at that intersection.

  • The City of Newton Health Department is rolling out a citywide program stocking AED boxes in all public buildings to now include civilian emergency kits to stop profuse bleeding before first responders arrive. The department will also be offering family friendly training sessions on how to use these new kits to stop traumatic bleeding in an emergency.

4. NewCAL community meeting 

Later on Thursday night, Bill headed over to the community meeting at the Ed Center on the NewCAL (senior-ish center) Albemarle proposal. Here are some notes from the part of the meeting Bill was able to be present for:

  • Currently, the administration plans to build a facility without an override using normal capital funding that has already been set aside. The center will require $16.6 mil itself, and another $9+ mil for the pool rebuild, if it is rolled into that by doing the Albemarle option.

  • Many audience members expressed frustration that they felt like the city was inadvertently pitting community members and their interests against each other with the current proposal, making it seem like their concerns or objections to the proposal or process so far are motivated by opposition to a senior center rather than confusion and uncertainty about this specific site and the seemingly opaque process used to reach it as the first choice. Most people in the room seemed very supportive of most of the substance of the building and programming itself, although there clearly remained many questions about whether it was geared toward seniors primarily, what role the pool would play in the project, and so on – as well as whether or not this was the appropriate location within the city. (Lack of transit access worried many audience members of all ages.)

  • The staff also addressed a question about the possibility of using, for example, the Newton Center triangle parking lot instead for the project. Essentially, the Albemarle site came up because there was a list of sites that might be large enough for the full-scale facility envisioned based on public feedback about what programming should be offered at a new senior center – however, there is a separate track effort to look into so-called “middle-tier options” like the Newton Center parking lot, which would not be large enough for the full-scale aspiration but might be large enough for a medium-sized facility with less program offerings. Not all city staff and departments are on board with the Albemarle idea – to say nothing of the many community members who feel it is an inappropriate site – so the city is also examining the middle-tier sites now in case this larger concept falls through. (A number of audience members expressed concern again about how the process has unfolded including this rather unclear system of multiple tracks of inquiry.) Similarly, private land or land held by religious institutions remain possible options if they become available to the city at a reasonable price. The administration is very reluctant to pursue any option that scatters separate facilities across the city because it is not easy for many seniors to travel between them and the costs for each site start adding up to a collective number that would be about the same as the price tag for one big site.

  • Bill asked a question about an issue that a voter had brought up to him at the door this week regarding upkeep at the current senior center during the transition of several years or more to a new center. The voter noted that the current center is old and broken down but that this would remain a problem for some time, even if a new senior center were approved. Currently, there is no custodian, in fact! City staff said they have requested funds from City Council for critical repairs to the roof, etc. Larger problems, such as the antiquated heating system, cannot be fixed because of asbestos that can’t be removed without closing the center, which conflicts with the overall transition problem. So there is somewhat of a transition period maintenance plan, but not a very comprehensive one unfortunately.

5. Climate Strike

Today, Bill attended the high school student climate strike event at Newton City Hall in the early morning and then headed downtown on the Green Line to participate in the rally at Government Center. Throughout the campaign, Bill has consistently put environmental action in Newton as one of his top priorities. He has been endorsed in this campaign by Mass Sierra Club and Sunrise Boston, which only endorsed six candidates in the entire region. Newton was well-represented at the event in Boston!

Upcoming Meetings:

Here are some upcoming events and meetings regarding issues affecting Ward 5 residents.

  • Saturday, September 21, 4 p.m. - Waban Library Center 10th Anniversary Celebration 

  • Monday, September 23, 6 p.m. Newton Free Library - MBTA Community Meeting on D Line Service Improvement

  • Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m., Waban Library Center - Community meeting to advance the process of obtaining MWRA approval to officially open public pedestrian access to the Sudbury Aqueduct from the Eliot Station fence to the Route 9 ramp

  • Friday, September 27, 8 a.m., Saco-Pettee Mill Building - MassDOT Project Update on the Needham St / Highland Ave re-design