Village 14 is inviting all candidates for mayor, city council or school committee to submit a single guest column between now and Aug 1.

Newton is in my genes. Public service is in my heart. That’s why I want to be your Mayor.

            I’m a lifelong Newton resident. My wife Wendy and I are the proud parents of Jenna, who’ll be starting first grade in the Lincoln-Eliot School. She’s the fourth generation of my family to receive a great education from the Newton Public Schools.

            I’ve been on the City Council for 16 years, eight of them as Council President, the second highest elected office in the city. My colleagues have expressed their trust in me by electing me President four times. As President of the City Council, I streamlined it, reducing the number of committees, and eliminating some unnecessary legislative steps.  I’ve worked to improve the tone of Council debates and overall city government.

            My achievements that benefit Newton include upgrading our safety infrastructure. When I realized that our school safety zones didn’t comply with federal guidelines, I led the effort for more and better signs and pavement markings alerting drivers to keep our school children safe.

            As the son of a firefighter who served Newton for 27 years, I knew for a long time that our fire stations, which were largely built in the 1940s and ‘50s, were obsolete.  It was also a question of improving the life/safety issues, working (and living) conditions, and overall operations for firefighters who risk their lives to keep us safe.

I have over 20 years of experience in all facets of finance, 14 of them at the management level at two state agencies, which I’ll bring to the Mayor’s office. I currently manage a $70 million budget. Ensuring that public money is spent wisely and transparently is a crucial part of the Mayor’s job. I alone among the candidates have done it and do it every day.

My overall vision for Newton is to have a responsive, interactive, transparent, and sustainable government that continues to improve our quality of life while remaining an inclusive and welcoming city for all.  I’ll be a hands-on Mayor in the following areas:

– EducationThe Newton Public Schools have specific academic, managerial and community goals to achieve a superior experience in the classroom for everyone: students, their families, and staff. I’ll work to meet or exceed those goals.

– Fiscal management – I’ll use my professional day-to-day experience to properly plan and oversee the budget and, using forecasts and audits, to implement capital improvements and meet long-term liabilities.

– City services and infrastructure – Many people move here for the education and stay because of the quality of life. I’m committed to expanding Newton’s arts and culture programming and improving our Senior Center.  While we’re investing in people and programming, I’ll continue the implementation of strategic plans for our streets, transportation, water/sewer system and overall environment.  I’ll devise and launch strategic plans for improved parks and senior services.

– Responsible development and housing – I’ll enhance the vibrancy of Newton’s unique villages and balance the traditional character of our residential neighborhoods. I’ll explore more options to increase affordable housing options, such as transit-oriented mixed-use projects. Our zoning re-design began under my leadership as City Council President and will continue.

– Better communication – As Council President, I improved communication between the Council, Mayor and School Committee. As Mayor, I’ll improve communication within city government, so that different departments can share expertise. And city government needs to use technology and social media to enhance two-way communications. Citizens and business owners need to know what their city is doing and have more of a say. Under my administration, City Hall will listen; City Hall will respond.

This city has given my family and me everything I value: opportunities to learn, live, and succeed; city services; and community life. After all my years giving back, I still feel I owe this city. I want every resident to have the same experience my family has had in Newton. Serving as Mayor is the best way I can to continue to give back to this wonderful community.  I ask you for your vote on September 12, the day of the preliminary election.