The current Newton City Council, evenly split between 12 women and 12 men, is the first Newton legislature to have at least half women. Based on the list of officially certified candidates, there could be anywhere from 8 to 16 women on the next city council (with a corresponding range of 16 to 8 men).

There are 21 incumbent candidates, 10 women and 11 men; three ward councilors are retiring. Two of the open seats will continue to be held by women, the other could be flipped from a man to a woman. Holly Ryan is running unopposed to replace Cheryl Lappin in Ward 8. Julia Malackie and Julia Caroline Carolina Ventura are running to replace Barbara Brousal-Glaser in Ward 3. Two women, Rena Getz and Kathryn Winters, and one man, Bill Humphrey, are competing to replace John Rice in Ward 5.

If all incumbents hold, the council will either remain evenly split or tilt 13-11 towards women.

There are 11 candidates running unopposed, 8 men and 3 women. All but one of the unopposed candidates are incumbents, with Holly Ryan getting a clear path to her first term.

Of the 8 incumbent women facing challengers, four could be displaced by a man: Maria Greenberg (Ward 1 Ward), Emily Norton (Ward 2 Ward), Susan Albright (Ward 2 At-Large), and Deb Crossley and Andreae Downs (Ward 5 At-Large). In the Ward 5 at-large contest, the single challenger is former Alderman Paul Coletti. For purposes of this count, only one woman is is as at risk of being replaced by a man.

Of the 3 incumbent men facing challengers, all three could be displaced by a woman: Jake Auchincloss (Ward 2 At-Large), Jim Cote (Ward 3 At-Large), and Greg Schwartz (Ward 6 At-Large).

How is it going to shape up? Obviously, it will hinge on vulnerable incumbents. In the at-large races historically, the lower-ranking incumbent from the previous cycle is generally the one picked off by a challenger. So, realistically, Councilors Auchincloss, Cote, Downs, and Schwartz are the only at-large incumbents likely to lose to someone of the opposite gender, though Auchincloss could also lose to a man. (Councilors Cote and Kelley essentially tied in 2017.) In the Ward races, the two races with incumbents where the gender could flip have women incumbents.

My early prediction is that the Council shifts back to 13 or 14 men. The most likely gender turnover is in the Ward 1 and 2 ward races and Ward 6 at-large, with either Ward 5 race a step behind.

What do you think? What do you predict the gender balance will be in 2020? Does it matter?