Board Bids Farewell to Departing Aldermen
The board said goodbye to Charlie Shapiro, John Freedman and Sydra Schnipper.
As another term comes to an end, the Newton Board of Aldermen honored its outgoing members last night, allowing them each to preside over the board and share a few words with their colleagues.
Ward 6 Alderman-at-Large Charlie Shapiro, Ward 8 Alderman-at-Large John Freedman and Ward 7 Alderman-at-Large Sydra Schnipper all had a chance to stand at the podium as "acting president" for a few moments of the meeting.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve four years as an alderman in the city of Newton," said Freedman, who decided not to run in this year's election.
With Freedman stepping down, the three-way race for the two Ward 8 at-large seats came down between David Kalis, Tom Sheff and incumbent Mitchell Fischmann. Kalis and Fischmann came out on top during the Nov. 8 election.
Freedman, who served as vice-chairman of the Finance Committee, recognized the "dedicated" staff in Newton, from City Hall to the public schools.
"It has been a privilege to have a chance to meet and work with people who every day are doing their best and working to make Newton the best city it can be," Fredman said.
The three outgoing aldermen were also issued a citation from the city and Mayor Setti Warren, honoring them for their service to the board and the residents of Newton.
"I want to thank each of my colleagues on this board for the opportunity to serve with you for the past two years," said Shapiro, who recently lost his bid for re-election to incumbent Vicki Danberg and newcomer Greg Schwartz.
In his outgoing message, Shapiro urged his fellow aldermen to continue working on making Newton "a more affordable place to live" and considering the wallets of the residents before pursuing potential trash fees or an override for rebuilding Angier Elementary.
Shapiro also recognized the service of both his colleagues and City/Board Clerk David Olsen, noting that the Monday night full board meetings are only a part of the work done by elected officials.
"I applaud each and every one of you for your commitment of doing the day-in and day-out work that the public doesn’t see, but is vital to keeping our city strong," Shapiro said.
Alderman Schnipper, who has been a member of both the School Committee and Board of Aldermen, received a lengthy applause for her 26 years of service to the city.
"I want to thank the Newton voters who have shown incredible confidence in electing me to public office 13 times," Schnipper said. "I am exceedingly grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this city I chose as an adult to be my home."
The veteran alderman, who has served as the chair of the Public Facilities Committee, thanked some of her fellow board members including Ward 7 Alderman Lisle Baker, who Schnipper said allowed her to "have a voice" in the Newton North construction project.
Schnipper's retirement from the board brings in former School Committee member Marc Laredo, who ran along with Alderman Ruthanne Fuller for the two Ward 7 at-large seats.
In her years serving Newton, Schnipper said her one disappointment was realizing how long it takes to make something happen in the city, a process she said she wished she could have changed during her time on the board.
Noting her lifelong passion of education and children, Schnipper also urged the board to "protect" the Newton Public Schools.
"The schools are fragile...[they are] what give Newton the reputation it has," Schnipper said. "If we let them diminish, it will be years before they are rebuilt."
The board will officially welcome back its elected incumbents and newcomers -- including newly-elected David Kalis (Ward 8), Greg Schwartz (Ward 6) and Marc Laredo (Ward 7) -- at the city's inauguration day next month. The ceremony will be held Monday, Jan. 2 at noon in the chamber at City Hall.
Note: The board took a vote on a number of items last night, including design plans and funding for the F.A. Day Middle School project. Stay tuned for details.