The following press release arrived this morning from City Councilor Jay Harney. Note that the deadline to hand in papers to run for office was July 25th. 

City Councilor Jay Harney announced today that he will not be seeking re-election. Harney has been the Ward 4 Councilor for seven terms, having first been elected in 2003. “It has been an honor and a privilege, one of the greatest thrills of my life, to serve the citizens of Newton, particularly the residents of Ward 4, as an Alderman/City Councilor for the last fourteen years. I have tried to work really hard to give back to a place where I grew up, a city that has given so much to my family and me. I hope that I have been able to make a positive difference in the lives of the people in my community.”

Harney says that not running again was a very difficult decision to make, and that is why it took him so long to come to this decision. The last few weeks have been agonizing for him. “I love this job, I love helping people, and I very much enjoy the time spent with an amazing group of dedicated citizen legislators. We may not always agree, in fact, we sometimes have very strong disagreements. However, I know how hard my colleagues work, day in, day out, to make Newton a better place for all of the residents.” But in the end, he believed it was simply the right time to move on. “When I first got elected, I stated that I would serve two or three terms and then somebody else should have an opportunity to run. But somehow, time just flew by and two or three terms turned into seven.”

Harney is excited that long time Auburndale resident Chris Markiewicz has decided to run for the Ward 4 seat and wholeheartedly endorses his candidacy, and he knows that fellow Ward 4 Councilors Lenny Gentile and Amy Sangiolo support Chris as well. “I have known Chris for many years. He has been involved in various neighborhood activities where he has demonstrated an ability to work with all parties to find common ground and reach agreement. As a CPA who has consulted to many large companies, he brings experience and judgement to fiscal, planning and strategic matters. Chris is active in the local arts community, especially in the music field.”

Harney has been a strong supporter of maintaining the character of our villages and neighborhoods, and has worked hard to try to assure that development projects are of appropriate scale and density for the neighborhoods in which they are situated. He has been a strong supporter of the Newton Police and Fire Departments, “the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe”, and of our great schools, including teachers, administrators and custodians. He has been a strong believer in open and transparent government, and in always trying to listen to the residents. “I know that Chris Markiewicz shares these same values and he will be an extremely effective advocate for Ward 4.”

Harney feels very strongly that since Newton is a city of 13 villages, each with their own unique characteristics, it is of the utmost importance to have a ward councilor who lives in the ward, is elected by the residents of the ward, and will be responsive to the issues and concerns of each ward. “Whether it’s fixing a pothole, putting in a parking restriction, implementing traffic calming measures, or working with a neighborhood and a developer to try to find common ground on a development project, a ward councilor is the most direct representative you can have in city government to listen to your concerns, protect your interests, to be your direct link to City Hall” he says. Thus, he strongly urges the residents of Newton to vote NO on the Charter change. “I respect that the Charter Commission worked very hard, but at the end of the day, I believe that they simply got this one wrong. The proposed new Charter is an up or down vote, so if you want to keep your direct local representative, you have to vote NO on the Charter.”

As far as his future plans, Harney stated “Go to more rock concerts, of course. I have only seen Bruce Springsteen 76 times. But seriously, I am not sure exactly what it will be, but I am looking forward to exploring new opportunities in public service, to continue to give back to the community and to continue trying to make a positive difference in people’s lives, whether in our city, in our state or in our country.”