Newton, Politics, Metro

Newton Voters Express Concerns With Zoning, Policing at Early Voting

Issues of zoning and policing were on the minds of some Newton residents who cast their votes during early voting in the special election to fill two vacant seats on the Newton City Council. Early in-person voting at Newton City Hall lasted five days, ending on Friday.

As of Thursday, 5,800 Newton voters had sent in mail-in ballots, and 1,181 residents had voted in person during early voting, according to a statement from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. 

Bryan Barash, Tarik Lucas, and David Micley are running to fill the vacant seat in Ward 2. John Oliver and Madeline Ranalli are campaigning for the seat in Ward 1.

Waban residents Wendy Valentine, Larry Fishman, and Sam Fishman decided to vote early to avoid crowds and allow time for the clerk’s office to process their votes, because they feel that the race will be close. 

The three residents voted for Barash and Ranalli. After working on a political campaign with Ranalli in 2018 and with Barash last summer, Larry Fishman said that he believes both candidates are committed to affordable housing and civil rights.

“They have been very active in Black Lives Matter in our local areas,” Sam Fishman said. “So, you know, I think that they’re good activists for our community and I think you need voices like theirs in the council.”

After voting by mail for the presidential election in November, Larry Fishman said that he enjoyed the process of voting in person this time around and prefers it to mailing in his ballot.

Ann Murray from Newton Highlands voted early because she thought it would be less crowded. For this election, she said, she is concerned with issues of zoning and equity in the police department.

Murray said she enjoyed being able to vote in person and that she felt safe doing so, as people were spaced apart.After reading about the candidates and consulting a friend, Murray said she chose to vote for Oliver and Lucas because she believes they have good experience. 

“The young lady from Harvard is probably very bright,” said Murray. “But I think she needs a little more life experience.”

Alekhya Chaparala, a resident from Newton Centre, said that she chose to vote early because it offered more flexibility. She said that when considering the candidates, issues of housing, the environment, and policing were important to her.

She voted for Barash and Ranalli, saying that she agreed with their platforms. 

For Margaret Seif, the most important issue during this election was zoning. She said that she felt safe voting in person, but that City Hall was surprisingly crowded given that she was there during the final hour of early in-person voting.

Ronna Krozy, a resident from Chestnut Hill, said she wanted to take advantage of the nice weather, which impacted her decision to vote early. Some important issues for her during this election included diversity, health care, and housing. 

“Basically the same problems that we look at in society are issues we’re looking at locally,” Krozy said. 

Voting in the special election will continue at various polling locations on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and all Newton voters can cast their ballots, regardless of the ward they live in. Mail-in ballots will be accepted by mail or in the drop boxes outside of City Hall until the polls close.

“You have to vote, you have to be involved, and you have to be engaged,” Krozy said.

Featured Image by Julia Remick / Heights Editor

March 14, 2021