Metro, Politics, Newton

City Councilor Rick Lipof Emphasizes Commitment to Collaboration Ahead of State Representative Campaign

Rick Lipof, candidate for the Middlesex 12th District House seat and 28-year Newton City Council member, wants voters to know that he’s a team player.

“Whatever I want to do, I know it’s going to be taken even further by the collaboration of other legislators,” Lipof said.

Lipof, who’s sat on Newton City Council since 1996, was raised in Newton by an alderman and a rabbi, spending his time across the area that falls under the 12th district, which includes wards 5, 6, 7, and 8 in Newton, as well as a part of Brookline.

“This is half the city of Newton, and a piece of Brookline, two areas I know well,” Lipof said. “I spent a lot of time in Brookline because my mother was the rabbi for 18 years at Temple of Ohabei Shalom.”

In addition to his government experience, Lipof has owned Lipof Real Estate Services for 33 years, a regional appraisal company based in Newton.

According to Lipof, this professional background gives him a unique outlook on politics.

“Managing budgets and a diverse staff give me a business perspective that I think is invaluable to pair with my decades of political service,” Lipof said.

On the city council, Lipof’s business career allowed him to balance the city’s overall economic well-being with individual interests, according to Ward 2 Councilor-at-Large Susan Albright.

“He could speak to the owners of businesses, speak to … the councilors, each in their own language and their own way of thinking [to] show the benefits of something,” Albright said.

Over his career, Lipof has served as City Council Vice President for four years, as well as chair of the Land Use Committee, Public Safety and Transportation (PST) Committee, and the Real Property Reuse Committee.

Lipof said his work on the City Council has demonstrated an ability to create change in Newton, such as his creation of the Newton Traffic Council. 

Lipof said the Newton Traffic Council, which he formed with former city council colleague Brooke Lipsitt, grants the council the ability to focus on small issues facing the city, while still leaving time and energy for the bigger ones.

“We identified that the PST Committee was not able to look at macro issues because we were dealing with stop signs and smaller—just as important—but smaller items that bogged us down,” Lipof said. “We created a brand new committee, which stands today, called the Traffic Council.”

As chair of the Land Use Committee, Lipof also led a project for the Riverside Green Line station in Newton that brought housing and commercial development close to the MBTA line.

“It took years, but we have approved [development] for two towers of lab and office and over 600 units of housing and restaurants and retail right there at the train station—very proud of that,” Lipof said.

Lipof also sits on the executive board at Temple Beth Avodah. He said that in lieu of the rising number of hate incidents against Jews, he would do more to prevent antisemitism at the state level. 

“Our schools need funding to meet for programs to combat hate and bias of all kind,” Lipof said. “Maybe early on, we need to talk about this. We should direct dollars to law enforcement agencies to track and stop hate groups that are on the rise.”

Ward 4 Councilor-at-Large Josh Krintzman emphasized that while Lipof embraces political change, he takes a careful approach to it.

“Rick has never been opposed to change, or modifying the way things are done,” Krintzman said. “He’s never been set in his ways or regimented like that, but he’s also careful to understand why things work the way they do before looking to change.”

Albright also highlighted Lipof’s ability to foster cooperation and compromise in government.

“He has progressive values, but he brings them to the front and he uses them in a sort of a moderate way, so that he doesn’t scare off progressives and he doesn’t scare off conservatives,” Albright said. 

Lipof’s career, however, hasn’t come without controversy. Last December, former city councilor Brenda Noel said she received “unwanted” text messages from Lipof, resulting in the council discussing the creation of an ethics code for councilors.

Lipof said he hopes voters won’t make their choice for the state election based on his controversial text message.

“It was stupid,” Lipof said. “And I wish I didn’t press send because, you know, you never know what’s going to be sent out to the world, but I hope I’m not judged by the one text in my life, but by my 22 years of public service to my community.”

Lipof has raised $50,000 for his campaign thus far and will be knocking on doors in Newton and Brookline to meet his constituents face to face.

“I’m going to be spending six hours a day from now until September 3 knocking on doors and introducing myself to people and listening and learning,” Lipof said.

Lipof joined the race for the state representative seat for Massachusetts 12th district after Ruth Balser stepped down. She held the seat for 26 years. 

Current Ward 5 City Councilor Bill Humphrey and former Newton City Councilor Greg Schwartz are also running for the seat.

According to Lipof, his experience is what makes him the strongest candidate running.

“I believe that the choice in this election is about sending the most prepared person to have the best chance to be effective for our communities,” Lipof said.

April 7, 2024