Editorials and Opinions

Municipal elections deserve attention

By Volume 49 Senior Editors
Published: October 2009

Comparatively few students pay attention to local politics and the workings of the municipal government, but they are topics important to all Newton residents. October and November in particular are of especial significance. On November 3, residents will be asked to vote for a new mayor, 24 Aldermen, and eight School Committee members.

The five mayoral candidates have been narrowed down to two, Ruth Balser and Setti Warren, following the primary on September 15. Although the candidates share opinions on several city issues, such as the override and park maintenance, they differ widely in background.

Balser has a long history in local politics as an Alderman and State Representative, and is experienced in health care management. Warren has more national than local experience, having worked for the Clinton and Kerry Administrations and directed the New England branch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While the alderman race receives less coverage, it is no less important. The Board of Alderman functions as Newton’s legislative branch of government, and consists of 24 members’€16 Aldermen-at-Large and eight Ward Aldermen’€to represent each Ward of Newton. This year, candidates are competing for ten Aldermen-at-Large seats and three Ward Aldermen positions.

The November elections also include the School Committee, a group of nine representatives responsible for making changes, setting policies, and dealing with issues surrounding the Newton Public School system. The city mayor serves as an ex-officio member and each of the eight wards elects a representative. This year, an unusually large number’€six out of eight’€of ward seats in the Committee are contested.

Especially now, when Newton must address the North construction, the turf fields at South, and other issues of health care and economy, the upcoming election is of vital importance. The School Committee elections in particular will touch students, since the Committee is responsible for policies that have direct effect on the schools and their policies. The mayoral and alderman elections will also affect students, indirectly through tax and housing policies, as well as city laws and regulations.

Not all cities have completely elective processes for legislative bodies or educational boards, and Newton residents should realize and make the most of their opportunity to directly elect representatives. Denebola encourages students to appreciate the democratic election process, which is even available to registered 18-year-olds. Students are advised to gain understanding of community issues, and to follow these elections and the candidates running in them.

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