Candidate for Ward Councilor, Ward 2
Campaign Website: http://www.emilynorton.org
Newton native Emily Norton is a 3-term Newton City Councilor, where she serves on the Finance and Public Facilities Committee. She is also Executive Director of the Charles River Watershed Association. She is a mother of three boys and holds a BA from UVM and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Discuss an experience where you made a decision that you now regret.
I co-docketed an ordinance that would have regulated drones. Then a constituent reached out to me to ask if he could bring some drones over to my house and show them to me. When I saw how excited my 3 sons were watching these drones fly around our yard, I saw the "positive" side of drones. Then as I learned more about how much regulation the federal government already requires of drone operators, I changed my mind and ended up voting against my own ordinance. It was a reminder that is a good thing that government does not move too quickly, because I had to time to take in more information before the final vote.
Question 2: Do you support the proposal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in Newton by 2050? Why or why not?
Last session and this session I filed an ordinance that would make Newton zero carbon by 2050 because I believe climate change is an existential threat that demands action from all elected officials. Newton is a leader community that others follow, so it is even more incumbent upon Newton to be a leader. I am proud of my track record bringing the concept of Newton Power Choice to Newton, to speed up the adoption of EVs, and look forward to working with my colleagues to take additional bold action.
Question 3: What is your opinion of the current development proposals such as the Northland and Riverside projects?
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on these proposals before the vote, as we act in a quasi judicial capacity, so just as you would not want to see a judge opining before seeing all the evidence, I will wait to see the final proposal before making up my mind how I will vote.
Question 4: There are a number of expenses that the City needs to grapple with: union contracts still being negotiated, tight school budgets, NewCAL (a new Senior Center), the acquisition of Webster Woods, possible rehabilitation of the Armory, etc. What are your priorities and why?
Newton has a looming problem in the form of our $1B liability for pensions and retiree health care. In FY19 Newton paid $31M into our pension fund, which is more than we spend on our Parks Department or our Police Department. And that $31M must grow at the pace of 9.6% a year which is far more than the rate of increase of our revenues, which is ~3-3.5% a year. This is one reason I believe so firmly we should be promoting commercial development rather than residential development, as a way to earn more revenue for the City. (Commercial property is taxed at almost twice the rate of residential.)