by Jenny Lee & Maya Hayao
On Sep. 12, Newton citizens voted in preliminary elections for the two open City Council seats, narrowing down the candidates for each seat from three to two. Of the pool of 15,487 registered voters, only 3,647 voted.
Candidates Dan Gaynor, David Micley and Peter Bruce ran for the ward two seat, receiving 806, 680 and 548 votes, respectively. In the Nov. 7 election, Micley and Gaynor will face off for the vacant seat previously held by Emily Norton, who has decided to not run for re-election.
Ward two candidate David Micley has been involved in numerous local groups and served as a town meeting member in Brookline. He said that his interest in local politics is motivated by a desire to make connections within his community.
“Local politics is where you can make real change and improvements that you can see while connecting with neighbors and helping to advance and advocate for issues that they care about,” he said.
Newton parent and English teacher Jenny Robertson said that she admires Micley for acquiring feedback directly from residents.
“Micley’s approach is more of a mom and pop, knocking on doors and talking to and meeting people,” she said. “I like that because, to me, it’s more neighborly, even though it may not be as politically savvy as getting all of these endorsements.”
Ward two candidate Dan Gaynor was born and raised in Newtonville. He previously served in the Obama administration as a presidential appointee for national security and foreign policy. He said that his goal in Newton is to make a valuable contribution to the community that he and generations of his family have called home.
“I want to give back to the community that shaped me into the person I am today, and gave me the values that I hold dearly,” he said.
In the race for ward six, Martha Bixby, Lisa Gordon and Mark Holt received 888, 586 and 124 votes, respectively. Bixby and Gordon emerged as the remaining contenders vying for Brenda Noel’s vacant seat, who also opted to not run in this year’s election.
Newton’s ward six Councilor-at-Large Alicia Bowman said that she endorses Bixby because of her emphasis on community and compassion to help residents.
“From the moment I met [Bixby], I recognized that she was a person who was looking to become involved and embrace the community and see how she could help Newton,” she said. “She immediately became sort of a resource.”
During her twenties, ward six candidate Lisa Gordon was a civil rights and anti-racism activist in London. If elected, she said she will champion the interests of the community at large and is willing to tackle any obstacle that arises.
“I would like to be very active and propose things that I think will enhance ward six,” she said. “I have always been somebody who will advocate on behalf of others. So I feel there’s no issue too small or too large for me to address, and to do the best that I can to come up with a good solution.”
Senior Nora Linssen, who worked on Bixby’s campaign, said that councilors hold a crucial role in dealing with local issues that impact the Newton community, including students.
“The decisions that the City Council makes are really important for funding schools and for new developments in Newton,” she said. “They also have a really important role in things like environmental protection, zoning, bicycle lanes and things that can directly affect students.”
War two Councilor-at-large Tarik Lucas, who endorses Micley, said that an appropriate candidate for the ward councilor role should be committed to fighting for the opinions of their ward.
“They have to take strong positions on anything that would impact that particular ward,” he said. “Whether it’s development, zoning, flooding, transportation, traffic or open space, they have to be a strong advocate.”
Linssen says that youth involvement in local politics is essential because it promotes lifelong civic engagement.
“The voice of young people is valued to a certain extent because we hold a unique perspective on politics, especially local politics,” she said. “Us students can really make a difference.”
Lucas, however, said the results of the final election ultimately comes down to which candidate residents in the wards are most drawn to.
“So voters look at who has the best background, the best professional and work experience and the best education,” he said. “Each of these candidates have incredible backgrounds, and they are not alike.”
The final elections on Nov. 7 will determine the new councilors for wards two and six.