The four Newton Area Councils will be hosting a series of candidate debates on Oct 20 and Oct 27.  For the Ward 5 debate, the organizing committee made the surprising decision to include Rena Getz, the losing candidate from September’s preliminary election in this city sponsored event because she has declared that she is running as a write-in candidate.

Fredrica Smith, a second, even longer shot write-in candidate was also hoping to join the debate but was turned down by the organizing committee.  A very disappointed Ms. Smith forwarded her communication with the committee.

Dear City Council Debate Organizers,
I’d like to be included in the upcoming debate.  I am organizing a write-in campaign as a candidate for the Ward 5, ward-only seat.  As an Upper Falls resident who has been actively involved in the community recently,  I’d like to throw my hat in the ring to try fill John Rice’s giant shoes.
I look forward to discussing Ward 5 issues and needs with the other candidates.
Thank You,
Fredrica Smith

Hello Fredrica,


Sorry for the delay in a response but we will not be including you our upcoming debate. We have used the same criteria for including write in candidates that the League of Woman voters established in 2017 when they decided to include Alison Sharma in their forums and voter guide.

  • filed papers with the OCPF
  • have a campaign website and/or Facebook page
  • actively campaigning

Rena easily met this criteria so we included her in the post-preliminary debates.

Area Councils Debate Administrators

Debate Administrators,
I find your response deeply disturbing and disingenuous for a host of reasons:
* The League of Women of Voters is not the host of this event.  They are a private organization.  Their decision on including a particular candidate in their debates in 2017 is not pertinent.  Even if it were,  the details of Alison Sharma candidacy in that race bears no direct relation to either of the write-in candidates for this election.
*  None of the criteria you mention would seem to apply to my candidacy
1. Filed Papers With The OCPF – The OCPF filing deadline is 8 days before the election.  I fully intend to comply with all applicable OCPF rules.  For you to say that you would disqualify me from inclusion in the debate, because I haven’t filed my papers three weeks before the due date would appear to be a specious and arbitrary obstacle, that frankly is ridiculous.
2. Have a campaign website and/or Facebook page – Does my Facebook page ( not meet some other arbitrary, unpublished standard your are maintaining.  Are you aware that one of the candidates already on the ballot for a Ward 5 seat doesn’t have a web site or Facebook page?
3. Actively campaigning – Once again, do you have some arbitrary unpublished standard by which you determine if my campaigning so far qualifies as “active” enough.   Do the hundreds of citizens I’ve spoken to and public events I’ve attended not meet your “active” standard.  What exactly is that standard.
I began this campaign in a burst of optimism, your response to my reasonable request is a bullet through the heart of that optimism.
I personally admire the other write-in candidate (Rena Getz) for her commitment and tenacity in waging her write-in campaign in the face of losing the September preliminary election.  Initially I applauded you for the rather unconventional decision to decide to include write-in candidates in the upcoming debates.  However now that I learn that you are not in fact including write-in candidates, you are only including one specific write-in candidate of your choosing, and misapplying some unpublished arbitrary requirements to exclude all others.  You do Ms Getz’s campaign no favors, nor mine, nor the citizens of Newton.
Shame on you.
Fredrica Smith