In front of a passionate standing-room-only crowd Monday, the Newton City Council voted 13-8 against placing a question on the November ballot asking voters if they would like to ban all recreational marijuana stores in Newton. Later, in a 18-2 vote, the council approved a second proposed ballot question that would limit the number of stores to between two and four (as opposed to eight — or 20 percent of the number of liquor stores here — as specified by state law).
Opponents of all retail sales in Newton now have just over a month and a half to gather perhaps as many as 9,000 signatures to put the full ban on the ballot this fall; a chore that will be daunting to say the least.
It was the most fascinating and contentious vote and debate before our city council since the votes for Washington Place and Austin Street.
Voting against the full ban question: Leary, Greenberg, Albright, Norton, Brousal-Glaser, Krintzman, Markiewicz, Downs, Crossley, Danberg, Noel, Grossman and Kalis.
Voting to put the full ban on the ballot: Ciccone, Auchincloss, Cote, Kelley, Gentile, Rice, Schwartz and Baker
(Laredo was absent and Lappin and Lipof were recused.)
Which bring us to the second most interesting thing about Monday’s vote: How our seven freshman city councilors were the key to the vote on Monday.
Of Newton’s seven first-term councilors who took office Jan. 1, six (Greenberg, Krintzman, Markiewicz, Downs, Noel and Grossman) voted to keep the question off the ballot. Only one newbie (Kelley) voted “yes.”
Not only did those six “no’ votes cover the margin, I think it’s likely “yes” would have prevailed if the same vote was before last year’s council.
In particular, I’d venture that it’s highly likely that former Councilors Yates and Blazar would have been “yes” votes. I’d also guess that Sangiolo and Lennon would have been probable “yes” votes too. I’m not certain about Harney, but he tended to vote with the others on the “yes” side. And we know that ex-Councilor now Mayor Fuller is on record saying she thought voters should decide.
Among former councilors, that leaves only Hess-Mahan who has criticized Kelley’s position and the proposed question on Village 14 so he would have been a certain “no” instead of her “yes”.
Even if I’m wrong about some of my above guesses, it’s still pretty clear that the council turnover was the difference maker last night.
As the saying goes: Elections have consequences.
And that’s the second most interesting thing about Monday’s vote.