Metro, Politics, Newton

City Councilor Focuses on Community in State Representative Campaign

Ward 5 Newton City Councilor Bill Humphrey, who announced his candidacy for the 12th Middlesex House seat last month, can trace his interest in politics back to his time as a Newton high school student.

“In my family, it was instilled in us that service to the public and the community was a very important calling,” Humphrey said. “And when I was in high school, I was involved in Democratic Party politics a little bit and I found that I enjoyed the role of being involved in politics and serving others.”

Humphrey was first elected to Newton City Council in 2019 when he was just 28 years old and is currently serving his third consecutive term. He describes himself as a progressive Democrat and emphasizes his commitment to his constituents as a core part of his job.

“The best part of being a city councilor is working on constituent services requests,” Humphrey said. “No matter what else is happening in the rest of the world, if you can help someone get a pothole fixed, or a broken sidewalk repaired, or something like that, you can make a difference in somebody’s life and make their life better in a small way. 

A fifth-generation Newton resident, Humphrey said despite going to college out of state, he knew he wanted to pursue a political career in Newton. 

“I went to college in Delaware and was very involved for a while in Delaware politics, but it became apparent through that process that the place that I felt most comfortable, and knew the most people, and felt like I understood the community and its needs the best was right here in Newton, where I grew up,” Humphrey said.

This connection to his hometown extends to his Newton Public Schools experience. One of his constituents, Newton resident Jo-Louise Allen, recalled that Humphrey sometimes coached the speech and debate team at Newton South High School (NSHS), where Allen’s sons all attended. 

“Bill is such a good alum of Newton South that he would come back and coach the students in speech and debate,” Allen said. “And I respect him for that, you know? Very few, like three alums maybe, would come back and help mentor the young high school students that were in the speech and debate team.”

Allen has known Humphrey since he was a junior in high school through his friendship with her eldest son, and said Humphrey had always had an affinity for local politics. 

She believes his strength as a politician lies in his active efforts to connect with his constituents. 

“He also comes to local area council meetings, he comes to, like, we just had hot chocolate and carol singing at the Luke’s Little Cafe place around the corner, you know, he comes to things,” Allen said. “I could just emphasize that he’s very present.”

Another Newton resident, disability advocate Robert Solomon, also emphasized Humphrey’s connection and receptivity with his constituents, speaking about an initiative by his organization, Inclusive Design Newton, where Newton government officials took wheelchair tours to better understand accessibility issues in the city.

“Bill signed up to go on one of these wheelchair tours with us, and his comments during it and after really showed us, my group, that we were making a dent in how people think about planning for the future, preventing obstacles to people with disabilities,” Solomon said. “So I was really impressed with comments he made … he could already recognize what we were pointing out and could really appreciate what we were trying to show the administration.” 

This grassroots attitude also manifests in Humphrey’s commitment to door-knocking as a campaign strategy. He has already begun knocking on doors as a part of his bid for the 12th Middlesex House seat.

“I intend to continue knocking doors all the way until the primary, which is how I got elected to the City Council originally,” Humphrey said.

Looking to the future, Humphrey emphasized his commitment to constituent services, as well as climate action and affordable housing—all of which he looks forward to pursuing in a more impactful political setting.

“I’m always going to be fighting for the people I represent, even if not everyone agrees on every single issue about what we should be doing,” Humphrey said. 

March 17, 2024