Holly Ryan is running for her second term as Newton Ward Councilor in Ward 8.
Ryan graduated from Newton South High School and has lived in Oak Hill her entire life. Upon her election in 2019, she became the first openly transgender person to serve on a city council in Newton.
Ryan has worked for social causes throughout her professional career, from working for the Middlesex Human Service Agency for over two decades to serving as the LGBTQ liaison in the Mayor’s Office, her work as always focused on service, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Within the council, Ryan is on the Zoning and Planning and the Programs and Services committees. She also was on Newton’s Human Rights Commission and currently is the co-chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s LGBTQ+ Caucus. The issues Ryan is interested in include zoning, traffic, and constituent services, according to the Newton City website.
Ryan did not respond to a request for an interview.
First elected in 2012, David Kalis is running for re-election as an at-large councilor in Ward 8 and is most concerned with working on behalf of his constituents.
“My highest priority on the City Council is serving you, my constituents,” he wrote on his website.
Kalis sees his role as taking part in city issues for the people who elect him, whether they are small or large.
“From helping residents navigate City Hall, to getting a sidewalk or curbing created, to listening to concerns about development, traffic, or infrastructure, I take this aspect of my responsibilities to heart, and am open to talking with constituents and taking action on their behalf,” he wrote.
In his next term, Kalis is concerned with fostering economic growth in the city while maintaining the character of Newton, supporting affordable housing for people of all ages and incomes, improving long range planning for infrastructure, and promoting zoning that proposes desirable uses of spaces and protects neighborhoods.
The council has made strides on some of these issues, including investing in infrastructure, improving the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinances, preserving open spaces like Webster Woods, and investing in education, Kalis wrote on his website.
On his campaign website, Kalis highlights his life-long connection to Newton and how the skills he has learned in business are helpful as a member of the council.
Kalis grew up in Newton in the Waban village and graduated from Newton Public Schools (NPS). After high school, he earned a bachelor of arts from Tufts University, and an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago. He currently works in business and serves on the Public Facilities Committee and the Real Property Reuse Committee.
He currently also serves as the vice chair of the finance committee, according to the City of Newton’s website.
“The continued demands on our City require seasoned leaders who understand the issues and have a proven track record of working with City staff, residents, and other board members in collaborative ways to get things done,” Kalis wrote. “I look forward to working with you as best I can, and have specific areas I’d like to impact.”
Kalis did not respond to a request for an interview.
Richard Lipof, save for a break between 2008 and 2014, has served on Newton’s City Council since 1996, and is running for his eleventh term as city councilor-at-large in Ward 8.
“What drives me to serve is every little thing we vote on and everything we do, we do our constituent services, helping people every day,” Lipof said.
Issues that Lipof highlighted include bringing more affordable housing to areas of Newton that are close to public transportation, including discussing more multi-family housing near the city’s train stations prior to developing policy proposals.
When he was vice chair of the land use committee, Lipof led the deliberations on the Riverside Project, which the city recently approved, he said. This project contains mixed-use, transit-oriented developments near the Riverside MBTA stop to promote less dependence on cars, and affordable housing opportunities, according to Newton’s website.
Lipof said he is worried about the misinformation surrounding debates in Newton and stressed the need for civil conversations about zoning and housing. Lipof said he is happy to continue to work on zoning and housing issues and bring reasonable discussion to the table.
“Making a new zoning code that works for the City of Newton is really one of the most important things we’ll be doing in the upcoming term. Unfortunately, there’s been misinformation about … the zoning code to be used in a way that would change our city too dramatically,” Lipof said. “It’s sad that people don’t understand the truth.”
Lipof was born and raised in Newton, graduating from Newton South High School and then attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
After a brief stint in New York City working in the entertainment business, Lipof was searching for a place that was conducive to balance and found no place better than the Boston area, he said.
Lipof started his professional career working for a bank, where he learned how to value real estate properties. From there he started his own real estate business, Lipof Real Estate Services, Inc., which he still works at as president of the company. A few years after founding his business, he entered into public service because it was what his family instilled in him.
“I grew up in a family that preached being a part of your community,” he said. “My father was an alderman [the former title of city councilor] and my mother was the campaign manager for [Theodore Mann] who was Newton mayor for twenty-two years … I grew up with having governors and senators and presidential candidates holding fundraisers in my home. It was in my blood.”
A life-long educator, Cove Davis sees the open school committee seat in Ward 8 as the perfect opportunity to utilize her professional skills in the public sector.
“I think one of the things I bring to the school committee is the ability to collaborate with a lot of different people to hear what they’re saying to kind of bring other people along with what they’re saying and make sure that we’re working towards a common goal,” Davis said.
With the resources the network of schools has, Davis believes that, if some work is done, NPS has an opportunity to shape into a model of education, she said.
“I see little issues all over the place, but I think the main thing that I want to improve on is improving the trust and communication that Newton has with their school committee … and that [lack of communication] leads to people losing a lot of trust, sometimes rightly and fairly,” she said.
This poor communication, according to Davis, may result in decisions made by the committee, including the right ones, not being communicated well to the population.
“It’s a pretty complex system with a lot of things interacting, but I think what you can do is you can create a process that communicates what you’re doing, how you’re going about thinking, how you’re researching it and, then, how you’re rolling it out,” she said.
Davis’ priorities also include providing excellent education for all students, including ensuring that all schools have qualified staff and quality technology and resources. Following the gaps in education resulting from the pandemic, Davis wants to assess these gaps and determine how to allocate resources to remedy this. Davis also wants to focus on improving the infrastructure of the school buildings.
Davis describes herself as a “life-long educator” with experience in public schools and administration, and said she has a knowledge of NPS since her children attend Newton schools.
Davis began her career working as a teacher at an international school in Jordan. After returning to the United States, she worked as a counselor in the School District of Philadelphia, and then in the Boston area, where she became a middle school principal in Chelsea.
With her growing family in mind, Davis said she moved to Newton in 2012 mainly due to her belief that the NPS had great resources and potential, she said.
Working in the Chelsea Public Schools as a principal of the Joseph A. Browne School and attaining a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston University, Davis has always focused on education as her career.
Davis continues this focus in her current position, as executive administrator for curriculum and assessment for the Five District Partnership, where her group’s main goal is closing the student achievement gap across the urban districts of Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Revere, and Winthrop, according to the organization’s website.
Davis said she still was hesitant to run for any political office at all.
“I considered running for the [Newton] School Committee about four years ago, but was kind of overwhelmed … It was a little daunting at that point [since] I’m not a politician by practice,” she said. “But I was interested and this spring people were approaching me about running so I decided that I would.”
Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor