Candidate for Councilor at Large, Ward 6
Campaign Website: http://www.gregschwartz4newton.com
Married with two daughters in the Newton public schools, I have been Ward 6 Councilor at Large since 2012. I am a primary care physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where I care for adults of all ages. I also trained as a lawyer, and worked for two congressmen and a senator in Washington.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Discuss an experience where you made a decision that you now regret.
I supported solar panels on school roof-tops without hesitation. But solar canopies over parking lots at South High School initially troubled me, because I worried the industrial character of the structures would detract from the natural feel of the adjacent wetland. I was soon corrected by my then-8th grade daughter, who impressed upon me the urgency of acting on climate change. So I supported a solar canopy in front of Brown Middle School, but this had not been fully vetted with the community. After the PTSO, school staff, and police were consulted, the City finally got it right, putting panels behind Brown for a net gain in power made!
Question 2: Do you support the proposal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in Newton by 2050? Why or why not?
Yes! Our climate is changing due to human actions and we must reverse our impact on the planet before it is too late for our and our children's future. The scientific evidence is clear. As a physician, I see the impacts of climate change on our environment and on human health. The Newton Citizens Commission on Energy, drawing on local expertise in energy conservation and efficiency, made clear recommendations in a Climate Action Plan that will achieve Carbon neutrality by 2050. We must put them into place, focusing on changing to renewables in heating, transportation, and housing production. If we act decisively, we can succeed.
Question 3: What is your opinion of the current development proposals such as the Northland and Riverside projects?
Newton needs to build more affordable, senior, and workforce housing to help address the region's current scarcity of housing options. We also need to develop, where possible, to grow our City's diversity and tax revenue. I supported Austin Street and Washington Place after we addressed the anticipated negative impacts and maximized the benefits to Newton's residents. We need to do the same with Northland and Riverside. While both offer great opportunity to achieve our housing goals, we must address the potential negative impacts on quality of life in adjacent neighborhoods. As chair of Land Use, I have strived to achieve this balance.
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?
Budgets reflect a community's priorities. Excellent teachers, rich school programming, high quality senior services, the preservation of open space, and affordable housing are all high priorities for our city. Many can be paid for out of different funding sources. Acquiring Webster Woods should be funded through the CPA (Community Preservation Act) funds. Rehabilitating the Armory can be funded through CPA funds leveraged with a public-private partnership. School funding for salaries and curricular programs already represents 60% of our yearly budget, and need to be balanced. NewCAL can be bonded, but should be built on non-parkland.