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  • Writer's pictureWelcoming Newton

March 16th City Council Special Election and other City News

Newton has a city council special election coming up on March 16th. There five candidates total - two running for the Ward 1 at-large seat, and three running for the Ward 2 at-large seat. "At large" means all eligible voters can vote for each seat. The candidates graciously answered our questions about why they are running for office, and are serving as this month's village guide, giving us insider tips to their neighborhoods and their favorite spots throughout Newton.

Why are you running for City Council?

Madeline Ranalli (At Large Ward 1): I’m running for City Council because there are so many important issues facing us—whether it be our housing shortage, climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, or racial injustice—that require bold, brave leadership. Newton has the opportunity to set an example for other cities and towns, so I’m excited to bring a fresh perspective to the Council and give back to a city that provided my family with mobility and opportunity. And a young resident of our city, I am eager to advocate for the issues facing Newton’s youth population that often do not get the recognition they deserve, and to set a precedent for youth political participation and public service!

John Oliver (At Large Ward 1): I am running for City Council because I believe I can help Newton find the right balance between the Newton that we Want and the Newton we already have. I want to help Newton maintain it's personality as we adopt new and positive changes into our city.

David Micley (At Large Ward 2): I'm running for City Council to ensure that Newton continues to grow as a vibrant, inclusive, and multi-generational city.

Bryan Barash (At Large Ward 2): In a time of enormous challenges, we need leaders to step up who have the experience to help us build back better. I am running because I am deeply committed to public service and have the experience to use the tools of government to make a positive impact on the lives of every single person who lives here, especially those who are most in need.

Tarik Lucas (At Large Ward 2): I am running because I love Newton and I want to make sure Newton remains a welcoming and affordable community to people and families of all incomes and backgrounds, just like it was for me when I moved to Newton. I believe I would add a valuable, diverse voice that is not currently represented on the Newton City Council.

How have you supported neighbors in your previous work in Newton?

Tarik Lucas: I have served as an elected member of the Newtonville Area Council (NAC) and currently serve on the Newtonville Historic District Commission(NHDC). While on the NAC, I led on the creation of our Envisioning Washington Street Survey. Washington Street is going to go through many changes in the coming years, but we wanted to give residents who live near Washington Street a chance to give their opinions on what their community should look like. On the NHDC we preserve historical architecture, while letting homeowners modernize by adding density and energy efficiency. I also worked on the campaign to preserve the role of local Ward Councilors. Madeline Ranalli: I grew up engaged in social action and community service here in Newton, leading toy drives, bake sales and recycling clubs since I was in elementary school and always participating in Newton Serves and the Charles River Cleanup with my family. I have been involved in a lot of political advocacy for social justice in the city, working with student groups to advocate for affordable housing, racial justice and environmental sustainability. I have also done a lot of work on the state level, fighting for gun violence prevention and education equity, committing myself to public service and improving the lives of residents across Newton and Massachusetts. Bryan Barash: I have devoted my entire adult life to public service. In my day job, I serve as General Counsel for State Senator Harriette Chandler, writing important legislation on protecting women's reproductive rights, environmental sustainability, and civics education. I am in my second term on Newton's Human Rights Commission, where I help lead the community’s response to incidents of hate and bigotry, racism and anti-semitism, and support LGBTQ+ rights, gender equality, and disability rights. I serve as a board member of the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action (JALSA), as well as the New Art Center here in Newtonville. I'm an active member of environmental organizations Green Newton and Newton Mothers Out Front, where I've fought to make our community greener, with more open space, and to put us on a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I'm an active member of Engine 6, our local affordable housing organization, where I've successfully fought for more affordable housing in our community through projects like Austin St, Northland, and Haywood House, so that we have the housing diversity to be welcoming to all of our neighbors. I've supported my neighbors running small businesses, by advocating for outdoor dining through this pandemic and for lowering their licensing fees so they're still there for us after this terrible pandemic. I've been deeply involved in this community and am looking forward to raising a family here with my incredible wife Claudia. I hope you'll reach out and learn more about me on my website at John Oliver: I have been very active in our community: Through our school PTOs (Co President at Horace Mann and now at Newton North). With youth sports as a coach for 9 years. Volunteering at Newton Food Pantry. As an appointed Board member at Newton Community Ed. Preserving our open spaces and parks across Newton.

David Micely: I worked at Prozdor - The High School of Hebrew College (based in Newton Centre) as the Director of Recruitment and a teacher in their Hebrew school program. I also worked as a fundraiser at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, an organization that partners with and supports many community and non-profit organizations across Newton.

How will you work on the Council to include newcomers, people whose primary language is not English, and those not traditionally involved in the civic process in Newton?

David Micley: I would write regular newsletters with updates on what's happening in the city and work with members of the newcomer communities to translate and share these newsletters in their native languages.

Bryan Barash: I've made a concerted effort in my campaign to reach out to new voices to get them involved in our political process. Civics education has long been an important cause for me, which is why I've reached out to so many young leaders about my campaign. As a result, I am proud to say that we have a fellows program with over 30 young people helping our campaign in various ways. Social media has proven to be an effective tool for reaching new voters have traditionally not voted in municipal elections. This is something I'm committed to continuing as a councilor. Newton needs to be welcoming to people from different backgrounds, which is why I helped lead the successful fight to adopt an ordinance declaring Newton a Welcoming City for immigrants. It was a critically important step, but a tremendous amount of work remains ahead of us. We need to make public meetings more accessible to people who are new to our community, and/or working parents who are simply not able to attend an evening meeting at City Hall. I intend to file an ordinance requiring that public bodies, including the City Council, allow for public comment and have posted public comment policies. We also need to bring government into our communities, at village days and community barbeques. We also need to have city documentation available in multiple languages. And I'm going to have a regular newsletter both for my campaign and as a councilor, to keep people updated on what's going on in our community, which you can sign up for on my website at John Oliver: Newton is a great place to live - in large part due to the people. I will establish ongoing communications, office hours and opportunities to share what is going on at the City Council with everyone. The work done by the City Council affects us all; as such everyone deserves to have insight to what is happening. Providing broad access to this information and collecting resident's input is an integral part of my professional training, and this will be a part of how I act as your representative. Madeline Ranalli: It’s really important to me that we redefine what governing looks like in order to engage as many folks as we can in the political process. To do this, I will make policy and city information accessible and digestible with short summaries and social media posts for those who are less familiar with city issues, and will also work to translate these materials into Spanish and Mandarin to help folks for whom English isn’t their first language. I’m also eager to push for changes to our city’s public comment procedure to increase awareness, improve our hearing participation, and continue allowing for virtual public comment once the pandemic ends. Finally, because my campaign is entirely youth-led, we are engaging a lot of young residents who have never voted in a local election before, from high school seniors to Boston College students, through virtual events and targeted outreach. I hope to further those relationships on the Council to foster lasting partnerships on a range of city issues! Tarik Lucas: I will reach out to all members of our community through Newsletters, Village Days, and school & community events throughout the year. I will also hold monthly office hours so people can reach me in many different ways. I will proactively seek out those not traditionally involved in our civic life in creative ways, such as through the Newton Clergy Association and Newton Housing Authority.

Favorite thing about your village:

Madeline Ranalli: The tight-knit community and historic traditions of Italian heritage make Nonantum so special. People are always so friendly and eager to get to know you, whether you’re grabbing a quick coffee, taking your dog on a walk or going to a neighborhood event or parade. I also love how bright and inviting our village center is. The tree lights lining Watertown Street, annual Christmas display in Coletti-Magni Park and the Italian flag paint all along our streets always make you feel right at home, whether you've lived here your whole life or you're just passing through. Tarik Lucas: The historical architecture in our beautiful neighborhoods. The fabulous parks and local businesses on Walnut Street are an attraction too. Bryan Barash: That I can walk to it! Newtonville is a wonderful walkable neighborhood, as are many of our 13 villages, and we need to make our village centers more vibrant places for us all to enjoy. John Oliver: The close-knit community and cultural heritage in Nonantum

David Micley: Heartbreak Hill

Your favorite place to get coffee or a snack:

David Micley: George Howell

John Oliver: George Howell Coffee (Newtonville) Tarik Lucas: Formerly Bread & Chocolate, but now it's George Howell Coffee Bryan Barash: I love grabbing ice cream at Rancatore's in Newtonville, and if you're looking for an interesting adult snack, make sure you stop in at Craft Beer Cellar on your way home. Madeline Ranalli: Without a doubt, Antoine’s Pastry Shop (for either Italian cookies, an Elephant Ear, or an M & M cookie)

Your favorite restaurant:

Madeline Ranalli: In Nonantum, it’s either Shaking Crab for delicious seafood boil or The Landing/L’Approdo for incredible homemade pizza, both on Adams Street. My family also loves Dumpling House, which has the best soup dumplings and spicy wok around!

David Micley: Newton Center Town Pizza - I’ve been going there since I was a kid and it still tastes just as good! Bryan Barash: My favorites in Newtonville are Cook and Brewer's Coalition, or LeDu if you’re looking for great Thai food, but you can't sleep on Dunn Gaherin's in Upper Falls!

John Oliver: So many, but a few would include:Pizza from The Landing (Nonantum), Dunn-Gaherin's (Upper Falls), Wings from Buff's (Newton Corner) Tarik Lucas: Formerly the Rox Diner, but now it's Brewer's Coalition.

A fun playground or park:

John Oliver: Albemarle Field (Newtonville), Weeks Field (Newton Center) Bryan Barash: Cabot Park is one of my favorites, with a great dog park, little leagues bustling during the summer, and easy access for seniors living at Cabot Park Village. But you also should consider taking a swim at Gath Pool at Abermarle, which should be getting a facelift very soon. Madeline Ranalli: Either Coletti-Magni Park for the annual Santa and Christmas decorations or Stearns Park on Jasset Street, which is perfect for shady picnic lunches! Tarik Lucas: Albemarle Park. When I used to go on my morning jogs, I would always run by Albemarle Park. When I was in high school, I played in a summer baseball league at Albemarle Park. It is also the site of the only outdoor public pool in Newton.

David Micley: Newton Centre Playground

Annual village events to watch for:

David Micley: The Boston Marathon

Tarik Lucas: Newtonville Village Day in the Fall. 4th of July fireworks @ Albemarle Park. The Memorial Day Parade runs through Newtonville John Oliver: St Mary of Carmen Society Society Festival (85th anniversary!) Madeline Ranalli: The annual St. Mary of Carmen Summer Festa is an obvious highlight, but I also grew up watching the annual Memorial Day Parade through Nonantum, which is always filled with lots of community pride (and candy). Bryan Barash: Newtonville Village Day is our big event, but I'm hoping we'll have smaller summer events after this pandemic where we shut down the main strip on Walnut St and bring in food trucks and other entertainment. I'm also hoping we bring Porchfest to Newtonville!

Any insider village tips:

Tarik Lucas: Bullough's Pond is a wonderful place to go for a stroll. Bryan Barash: There's public parking still at the Austin Street parking lot! It's under the building now, but it's still there, right next to the awesome new public pavilion. Madeline Ranalli: To get fish that’s cheaper and fresher than the supermarket, go see Dominic at Steamers! He goes down to the docks every morning and always has the best selection. / Ms. Kim at the post office always takes care of you and wants to know how your day is going. Go see her for all of your USPS needs! / For a great sledding hill for younger kids, go behind the new Horace Mann/old Carr School for the best hill (and some adorable dogs). / Head to Al’s Tailoring for the best tailoring in Newton. Al is the sweetest and when you walk in, you’ll instantly feel like you’re in your grandparents' house. / For great jogging, biking or birding, check out the Charles River path along the Blue Heron Bridge, named for the birds you can sometimes spot while you’re there!

David Micley: Edmands Park is a hidden gem - go check it out! John Oliver: Coletti - Magni Park during the holidays

What year you moved to the village:

David Micley: 1987 - I was born here!

Madeline Ranalli: 2000 (the year I was born!) John Oliver: 2002, so I am still seen as a newcomer :-) Bryan Barash: My wife Claudia and I got our first place together in Nonantum, but we've been in Newtonville for about six years, and are looking forward to raising a family here. Tarik Lucas: 2009 For more information on voting in the special election, visit the city's website.

Housing Assistance

City News

Newton Out Doors: Call for art -- share your vision and be a part of Newton Community Pride's new outdoor art installation. Submissions due 2/28/21. More details:

Spring trees: Applications for the Newton Tree Conservancy’s spring planting are due Feb. 15th. The NTC offers the opportunity for Newton homeowners to get trees planted on the berm (the grassy space located between the sidewalk and the street). More information:

Sponsor a Tree to Honor Those Who Lost Their Lives to COVID-19: The 4C Tree Project aims to honor the memory of lives lost to COVID-19 by celebrating life through the planting of trees, and we need your help to make it a success. Spearheaded by Green Newton’s Environmental Youth Leadership Program, the Capture Carbon Commemorate COVID-19 Tree Project (4C Tree Project) hopes to demonstrate the resilience of our City through difficult times and its commitment to a healthy ecosystem. Your gift will help us plant trees in public spaces throughout Newton as memorials to loved ones lost and as reminders of the importance of caring for our world. Newton Free Library: Updates to the library’s operations and hours are available here. February break: Newton Community Education’s February programs include virtual and in-person options. More details here.

Find local events & learn more about what’s happening in town:

It can be tough to keep on top of everything that’s happening in Newton, especially during COVID social distancing.

We’ve created a landing page for those new to town, featuring important apps to download and helpful email lists to sign up for, including Mayor Fuller’s newsletter. Check it out here:

In addition, visit the following web pages and subscribe to these newsletters to find out more info about what’s happening in town - events, important city discussion and decisions, and more.

Need support?

Food assistance: information on the three food pantries, grab and go, and more available on the city's website here.

The Horace Cousens Industrial Fund is a charitable trust, established in 1930, which gives financial help to Newton residents who are faced with a temporary but severe financial problem. Grants are for one-time specific needs.

Welcome Home, Inc is a home goods pantry based at Trinity Church in Newton. Want to shop? Email to schedule an appointment.

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