I have a decade of advocacy in local politics and six years of dedicated service as an elected member of the Newtonville Area Council (NAC) to my record, including three years as President. While on the NAC:
I was the lead author of the NAC’s 2018 survey “Envisioning Washington Street.” The NAC mailed 11,000 postcards to all households in Wards 1, 2, and 3, inviting adults to share their views on building height, density, affordability, and transportation in terms of proposed redevelopment. We analyzed more than 2,500 responses from all over Newton, including 2,000 from these wards. “Envisioning Washington Street” is arguably the best survey of public opinion on development, transportation, and green and open space issues ever done in Newton.
I presented these results to the Zoning and Planning Committee of the City Council and argued that the highest heights in the Washington Street Vision Plan conflicted with the public will. Eventually, these heights were cut from 10 to 6 stories by the time of the final Plan.
I co-coordinated canvassing efforts on the “No on Charter” campaign, defeating an effort to make the City Council an all-at-large body. The NO side won handily.
A major purpose of the area councils is to encourage civic participation. In 2019 our NAC slate members, running in line with the results of our survey, i.e., for relatively constrained building heights and density, won the most votes ever by any (unpaid) Area Council candidates. They helped boost Ward 2’s turnout to the highest in the city that year. ·
I lobbied aggressively for wider sidewalks and other hardscape improvements on Walnut Street, as well as the closing of Bram Way, to create the plaza between Starbucks and Caffe Nero. I also arranged the permitting of local businesses there to set up tables and chairs.
With my wife, I worked hard with local business people to clean up trash on Newtonville’s sidewalks and benches. We produced those pretty I Love Newtonville posters you see in store windows urging people to pick up their litter. The current NAC has also done a fine job of continuing this legacy.
I have also learned the ropes around city agencies and had good relations with them. If elected, I’ll be able to help you navigate City Hall bureaucracy.
Since leaving the NAC, I’ve continued to follow local political affairs closely,
attending many meetings and writing for Fig City News.
I grew up in California, moving frequently, largely because of my father's job. I loved growing up in California for its: wonderful weather, its friendly, laid-back culture, and its first-rate, virtually free public schools. On the other hand, it had a transient culture with shallow roots and considerable narcissism. Nature, buildings, and relationships often didn't last in what sometimes seemed like a throwaway society.
My wife, Susan, son, and I moved to Newton 28 years ago and now live near the village center. In sharp contrast, much of what we love about Newton is its historic continuity, from its Garden City flora to the 19th century architectural aura pervading our neighborhood of old Victorian houses. These have mostly been converted to multi-family use. Indeed, our census tract is the only one in Newton with a majority of 2–4-unit dwellings. With seemingly strong zoning laws, we hoped Newtonville would retain the wonderful attributes that I missed in my early life, i.e., preserved nature and beautiful, historic architecture.
Our son’s education at Cabot, Day, and Newton North is also something for which we’re grateful to Newton. And for youth sports, I coached my son and his teammates to a Senior League baseball championship.
After a successful college career, he married a wonderful woman, and now we are blessed with two beautiful granddaughters.
My experience in the Army was foundational in shaping my political identity as well as teaching me teamwork, discipline, leadership, and how to get along with people from every region and demographic group. I have an honorable discharge for three years of service.
Like many young people then, I believed it crucial to learn about the Vietnam war. I decided at that point to pursue my intellectual interests in history and politics and began a career in political science. This led to a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. from MIT. My doctoral dissertation, “Diverging Fates, Political Parties and the Evolution of Labor Law in the United States and Canada,” won the Daniel Lerner Prize as the best dissertation completed in MIT’s Political Science Department that year.
After that, I taught at the College of the Holy Cross for eight years. In 1996, I coordinated a campaign that registered numerous voters in Worcester and helped elect Congressman Jim McGovern to the House of Representatives. I later became a researcher at the University of Connecticut, where I worked with Professor Everett Ladd, who headed the Roper Center for Public Opinion. While there, I published “How the Experts Got Voter Turnout Wrong Last Year,” which pointed out the flawed methodologies that were perpetuating the popular myth that U.S. voter turnout had hit record lows in the 1996 election. It got favorable press in USA TODAY and elsewhere and helped move the media toward using more reliable statistics in subsequent elections.
More recently, I continued to support my intellectual and political interests by driving a cab for three days a week, then having four days to pursue my intellectual interests. During that time, I met and sometimes got to know people, some famous and some not, from all over Newton.
Because roughly half of my jobs involved RIDE trips for the disabled, and because Veterans Taxi covered almost the entire Boston Area, I also got to know the people, eateries, and cultures all over the region. I was happy to serve the disabled who needed door-to-door transportation, hear their stories, and give them physical assistance. Overall, almost every day I drove, I thought what a wonderful region this is, with such a high level of civilization, i.e., cutting-edge health care and educational institutions, lots of natural and architectural beauty, and a high level of services for the poor and disabled. Being around so much of it, so often, I feel very strongly identified with the region as well as with Newton.
Now that I’m retired, I have plenty of time and energy to serve as the Ward 2 City Councilor, if I am so honored as to be elected.