Candidate for Ward Councilor, Ward 8
Campaign Website: https://www.holly-ryan.org/Biographical statement
I'm seeking a 3rd term to continue serving you on the Newton City Council. I grew up in Ward 8 & raised my children here. I currently serve on the Programs & Services Committee and the Zoning & Planning Committee. I work closely with Ward 8 Councilors Rick Lipof & David Kalis, who are endorsing me.
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?
Teardowns to build McMansions was one of the big reasons I decided to run in the first place four years ago. Every house around me in Oak Hill Park was getting replaced with these huge mega houses -- I call them "hotels" because they're so huge. Next term, the Council needs to take action on zoning in the residential districts to incentivize more preservation of existing housing stock and discourage these McMansions. This could include improved rules on setbacks, lot coverage, heights, organic-based stormwater runoff control (including mature tree protection), soil fill and site grading, and more.
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 have always been a passionate supporter of deeply affordable housing. We need to change our local ordinances so that specialized affordable housing developers can more easily build deeply affordable housing developments, for families, seniors, people with disabilities, and anyone else in need. Our new Affordable Housing Trust, which I pushed to create, will study potential sites and help acquire parcels in conjunction with these builders so that they can qualify for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. We took an approach like this for the Newton Armory, and now we should standardize it.
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 struggle to stay open without enough foot traffic and without sustainable costs. If we don't make some changes to our commercial centers to bring in more customers on foot and preserve spaces geared toward small, locally-owned businesses, our unique village centers are going to fade away. We already saw that happen in Oak Hill Park, and it could happen again even in places like Newton Centre if we don't do something soon. I believe the Village Centers Overlay District zoning plan is intended to help address these problems by emphasizing smaller footprints, bringing in new customers, and simplifying the process to open.
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?
On the Zoning and Planning Committee, I have been a champion for getting new construction and major renovations to go fossil free, and we need to strengthen those mandates because those buildings will be around the longest, and we don't want to lock in fossil fuel dependence and then make retrofits later even more expensive. But we also need to support property owners who might have a hard time paying for weatherization and electrification conversions. Newton's Energy Coach helps with this, but I also support state efforts to expand incentive programs.