Candidate for Ward Councilor, Ward 5
Campaign Website: https://billhumphrey.org/Biographical statement
Seeking re-election to a 3rd term. Currently serving Ward 5 on the Finance Committee and the Programs & Services Committee. Lifelong Newton resident. Prioritizing our roads, our schools, and flooding and other climate resilience.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Was your motivation to run for office prompted by an issue which impacts the community that is not being adequately addressed?
I ran for Newton City Council because I believed we needed to take a more aggressive position on environmental action, especially with utility companies and dependence on fossil fuel infrastructure, and I believed we needed to be doing more on housing supply and affordability. We have now adopted much stricter energy rules for new construction and renovation and are in the process of developing more code requirements. We have taken a harder line on the utilities, although we can always do more. And we reformed the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance and are continuing to work on affordability and overall supply of housing. The needle is moving.
Question 2: Housing affordability and its role in increasing racial diversity in Newton has been a stated goal. What measures would you take and support in order to meet this goal?
I am a strong supporter of our Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that mandates affordable housing units within otherwise market-rate projects, but I believe we need to make it easier and more straightforward to build deeply affordable housing buildings that qualify for the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit / state incentives. Their biggest barriers are typically land acquisition costs and how slow the approval process is. I supported creating our Affordable Housing Trust to plan strategically on future site possibilities and buy land faster when available, and I support zoning revisions to accelerate approval of 100% affordable proposals.
Question 3: Small businesses are the heart of our economy and they are struggling. How can you help the city support these businesses?
Our small businesses face high rents and insufficient local customer bases, even if they are businesses that do not compete directly with online e-commerce operations. I would support a combination of city policies to promote smaller commercial spaces that favor local business over chains, discourage lengthy storefront vacancies maintained solely to keep rents high, reforms to parking requirements and other costly red tape beyond market needs, and village center zoning changes that will establish more residents within sight of our small businesses as potential new customers.
Question 4: Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Newton. Residential and commercial buildings need to be weatherized and electrified. Relying on voluntary action produces extremely slow progress. What incentives or mandates would you put in place to motivate home owners to weatherize their houses?
We need a combination of mandates and incentives to promote residential weatherization in Newton at a faster clip. Significant renovations and new developments should always include more stringent weatherization requirements, and there should eventually be a blanket mandate in the future regardless of whether or not construction work is otherwise occurring, but we also need to provide assistance to owners who might struggle financially with these requirements. Newton already has an Energy Coach who helps connect owners with weatherization programs and credits, but we might eventually need direct assistance, and the state should do more too.