Peter Bruce

Candidate for Charter Commission

photo of Peter Bruce

I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT, and taught American Politics for a decade. I also studied survey research at UConn, and was a researcher at its Roper Center. I have since worked as a researcher, writer, and cab driver. I would like to strengthen democracy in Newton.

Questions and Answers

Question 1

What characteristics do you think are important in a charter commission member?

Like our Founding Fathers, candidates should have a great knowledge of history, political philosophy, political-economy, and comparative government, as well as well-developed viewpoints we can argue forcefully. We should be able to withstand withering criticism, and be as critical of ourselves as of others. We should also be non-dogmatic and civil. We need people who can construct surveys, focus groups, and mix frequently with our diverse populations to understand their needs.

Question 2

What community involvement and/or experience would you bring to the charter commission?

  • Recently elected — Newtonville Area Council.
  • My action group gathered 900 paper signatures against Austin Street Project.
  • Activist in CA, NYC, and MA elections. Led drive that registered 5,000 voters in Worcester (1996).
  • Worked with survey research teams.
  • Elizabeth Warren’s Newton Volunteer of the Week.
  • Coached son’s baseball team to championship.
  • As taxi driver, I’ve met diverse Newtonites, and learned much about them and Newton.
  • Army veteran 1967-1970.

Question 3

What are the key areas of the charter you would like to see reviewed?

Before this Charter, voter turnouts and proportions of competitive alder elections ran roughly double today’s. Then, Mayor and alders ran together, every two years.

Since a strong-mayor, 4-year term system is probably best for Newton, we should recouple mayor and alder terms to boost turnouts: four-year terms and recall option.

Mayor Warren was elected by 15% of eligible voters. There’s no mandate for densification. We need ability to recall.

Give Area Councils more powers.

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