LWVN strongly supports a YES vote for the charter commission proposal on November 7th. In late September, however, a second proposal to reduce the City Council–by using a home-rule petition–was docketed by 14 members of the Newton City Council, and will be taken up in November if the YES votes do not prevail. LWVN was concerned that this would create confusion by voters on November 7th (click here for our letter to the City Council). A recent Newton TAB editorial identified this home-rule petition as a viable option–but we want to outline the improbability of such a petition being successful.
There are four main steps to this home-rule petition, with our concerns listed below:
- The City Council needs to approve it…yet they have repeatedly failed to pass prior similar petitions–nine times! In addition, there has been no opportunity for public input, hearings, etc., so the level of support for this petition is unclear.
- The Mayor needs to approve it, but both candidates for Mayor have said they would not support the home-rule petition.
- If the petition should pass both these large hurdles, the State Legislature would then need to approve the it. Given the contentiousness of this issue in our community and the process used by the City Council, this would certainly not be simple or easy.
- Finally, while it the law is ambiguous, we would expect that our community would need to vote on a home-rule petition. While Newton did not need to vote for the change in title from “alderman” to “city councilor”, we predict that a large structural change would require a vote by Newton residents.
We encourage voters to approve (vote YES) on the charter proposal–its passage means that all Newton voters would vote for 100% of the City Council, while still ensuring that each geographic area is represented. The other, less-known, changes improve transparency and encourage increased engagement in local government. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions you have on the charter proposal, or visit the Yes for a New Charter website.