Ward 5 Holds Preliminary Election

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Today, the City of Newton is holding a preliminary election for the Ward 5 City Council seat. Ward 5 covers Upper Falls, Waban, and Newton Highlands. Three candidates appear on the ballot—Kathryn K. Winters, Rena L. Getz, and William Bishop Humphrey— and the two who receive the most votes will continue on to the primary municipal election on Nov. 5. 

The role of a ward councilor is to provide constituent services, vote on city council policy decisions, resolve conflicts and problems within the community, and keep residents updated on city plans such as road repairs, snow and waste removal, environmental policies, and petitions.

Polling locations are at the Emerson Community Center on 51 Pettee Street, Hyde Community Center at 90 Lincoln Street, and the Waban Library Center at 1608 Beacon Street. Locations will remain open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Rena Getz

After working on other people’s campaigns for six years, Getz is ready to take on her own. The 25-year resident of Newton hopes to become Ward 5 City Councilor and encourage greater citizen engagement in local politics. Getz is no newcomer to Newton politics—one of the campaigns she’s worked on was for former Ward 5 Councilor At-Large Brian Yates. 

“So I’ve been very much going to quite a few city meetings over the last seven years and I’m pretty informed in terms of city process,” Getz said. “So fortuitously, that is of benefit to the community in terms of how much I already know about how the city works.”

Increased citizen engagement in Newton’s government, especially regarding zoning reform, is Getz’s primary priority should she win the Ward 5 Councilor seat.

 “It’s a pretty urgent time in the sense that we’re going through a zoning reform and we’re also going through some rather large development projects that are being proposed in the city,” Getz said.  

Two of the referenced development projects directly affect residents of Ward 5, one of which is Northland, which is in Ward 5, and another is Riverside, which borders Ward 5. 

“So it’s pretty important that we have the residents in the discussion and I also believe that these projects need to have quite a bit of citizen input in order to become better projects,” Getz said. “But I think it’s important that both of these projects go through quite a bit more citizen engagement.”

Additional priorities outlined on her campaign website include promoting sustainability, protecting natural habitats, improving public transit, encouraging the growth of volunteerism, supporting public schools, and improving resources for senior citizens.

Kathy Winters

The president of the Waban Area Council, Kathy Winters, is trying her shot at Newton City Council. 

Following graduation from Boston College, she moved to D.C. to attend Georgetown Law School. Winters then worked as a tax attorney before returning to Boston with her husband, according to her campaign website.

Winters has sent all four of her children through Newton Public Schools, where she’s coached girl’s soccer, youth soccer, and girl’s basketball. 

“I have the skills to be an effective City Councilor,” Winters website says. “In my experience as a lawyer and as a volunteer in my community, I have excelled at working with people with different viewpoints. I am a pragmatic person who believes in respectful dialogue, finding points of consensus, and moving forward.”

Her website highlights 11 key priorities that she plans to act upon if elected. Winters wants to improve streets and sidewalks, “close the achievement gap” in Newton schools, look for more ways to combat climate change, and improve transportation. Providing a greater variety of housing options and changing the zoning code also made it onto her list.

“I am looking forward to knocking on doors and hearing from the residents of Ward 5,” Winters wrote on her campaign website. “I will work hard to earn your trust and support.”

William Bishop Humphrey 

For William Bishop Humphrey, a fifth-generation native of Newton, the election is personal. A graduate of Angier Elementary, Brown Middle School, and Newton South High School, Humphrey spent the majority of his life here in Newton and continues to volunteer as an assistant coach of the Newton South Speech and Debate team. 

Prior to announcing his candidacy, Humphrey was a Senior Editor and researcher at The Globalist Magazine, where he worked to promote global cooperation and societal integration. Humphrey has also served as the Political Committee Chair for the Massachusetts Sierra Club, an advocacy group for climate action and environmental public safety, and the executive boards of the Newton Democratic City Committee and Ward 5 Newton Democratic Committee. 

On his campaign website, Humphrey outlines eight major issues to prioritize if elected, which include improving the environment and transportation, housing, expanding public services and resources, increasing disabilities access and integration, enhancing senior life, welcoming young residents, promoting revenue fairness and inequality, and education. 

Humphrey’s number one policy issue is combating climate change and safeguarding the environment of Newton by improving transportation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

My number one policy issue will be making sure that we have a safe, clean, healthy, and vibrant environment for all our residents in Newton,” his website says. 

Humphrey also looks to make housing more affordable, not only for senior citizens but also young residents, specifically recent college graduates. 

Put simply, the main goal is “to make sure Newton is a community for everyone,” according to his website. This can only be achieved through constant face-to-face communication with residents. 

Since February, Humphrey has personally knocked on 5,900 doors and spoken directly to Newton voters, many of whom he has known since childhood, according to his website. If elected, Humphrey seeks to continue to build these relationships and strengthen the City of Newton for years to come. 

Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / For the Heights