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Meet the Candidates: Aldermen, Ward 1

Meet the aldermen-at-large candidates for Ward 1: Carleton Merrill, Janet Sterman and Allan Ciccone Jr.

A note for voters: Each Ward has two aldermen-at-large, which are voted on by everyone in the city. The Ward's one ward alderman, however, is elected only by the people in his/her ward. 

This year, the Ward 1 alderman-at-large race is contested between three candidates. Current Board of Alderman President Scott Lennon is running unopposed for the Ward 1 alderman seat. 

Newton Patch posed six questions to all 38 candidates running in this year's election, regardless of whether the race was contested.

The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

Carleton Merrill

Running for: Ward 1 alderman-at-large (incumbent)

 

Q: Why are you running for re-election?

A: Because I love this city. I have been a part of city government for many years and I've held many positions civically and politically. My own civic participation goes back to 1950 when I first ran for the Board of Aldermen. I’m not a speech-maker on the Board of Aldermen, but I think my votes are solid. I do my homework [and] I go over everything in that packet. I know what’s going on...I vote responsibly for the city. 

Q: What is your background in local government or community involvement and how will it help you in this seat? Do you have other experiences that will help you in the position?

A: Aside from my years on the board, I am a former veterans' agent for the city of Newton, former commissioner for the Scouts of America, part of a cancer patient support group at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, part of the Newton Advisory Committee and Nonantum Advisory Committee, former chairman of the West Suburban Division of the American Heart Association, former commander for the American Legion, and former commander of the Newton Veterans of Foreign Wars and member of the Jewish War Veterans.

When I look at the history of my own civic participation, which goes back to 1950, when I first ran for the board of aldermen, I was active at that time in many civic organizations. I just keep going and going, I love this city. I feel that I make a contribution. 

Q: With Newton facing several tough budget seasons in the recent past -- and likely several in the future -- what do you feel needs to be cut, added or changed in the budget to keep the city's finances balanced?

A: I think the changes that we have to look at are progressive changes that are in line with the bills we have to pay. If the money isn't there, we just hold back.

There are a number of programs that we like, but if we can’t afford them we have to put them off to the side until the fiscal picture can improve.

If we’re going to be heads above any other city in the Commonwealth, we have to watch what the income is and what it is we can afford. 

Q: What is the most important issue Newton Faces today?

A: We have to keep our eye on what we’re spending and what we’re taking in. In addition, I preach to the seniors that I work with to take care of yourself.

I have been the victim of two open-heart surgeries, abdominal aneurism surgeries...I have had a number of things that I have to live with, but I take care of myself. I tell the seniors, don't sit on your couch, get active in something. Get your mind working and keep going. I'd like to serve as an example to seniors -- you can do it.

Q: If elected, what is something you are going to focus on in your position for the next two years?

A: I'm going to focus on how much we have and where we're spending it. I work closely with a number of department heads and when the send requests, I give an honest answer: "Can we afford it?" 

I would also like to see a greater emphasis on the bicycle paths.

Q: Name one thing the residents of Newton may not know about you.

A: I don't think many of the citizens know that I received an outstanding public service award from the Social Security Administration for working with veterans. I was very honored to receive this award. 

 

Janet Sterman

Running for: Ward 1 alderman-at-large

 

Q: Why are you running for this seat?

A: As resident of Newton for 24 years (the last 22 in Ward 1) and an activist in Newton since 2006, I have gained much insight to the scope of our City Charter and how Newton's City Government runs. 

Initially, I became involved in my local community by attending Newton Corner Neighborhood Association meetings and advocating for restoration of Farlow Park and her historic bridge and pond. Meeting for lunch weekly with a tremendous group of caring individuals, the Newton Kiwanians raised money to donate to charities which provide services to children in Newton (such as the John M. Barry Boy's and Girl's Club, West Suburban YMCA, and the Second Step). Community activity became infectious and continued to lead me to additional interesting and compelling projects and organizations.

I began as an activist and have enjoyed working on many local issues. I plan to be as effective as your Alderman as I have been with all of my community work. In running for municipal office, I am giving Newton the opportunity to elect an Alderman with experience with our city and a contemporary outlook.

Q: What is your background in local government or community involvement and how will it help you in this seat? Do you have other experiences that will help you in the position?

A: Currently I am the chairperson of the Newton Ward 1 Democratic City Committee (since April 2009), Vice-Chair for the Newton Corner Advisory Committee - allocating federal funding to Newton through the Community Development Block Grant program, and am a member-elected board member on the NewTV Board of Directors. I have worked as a warden, clerk and inspector for the Newton Elections Commission for several years. As a participant in the NewtonSERVES Logistics Committee, the Newton League of Women Voters, Newton Kiwanis, the Newton 9-11 Memorial Foundation and co-chairing a ballot question committee I have met up with many residents as well as the challenges our citizens encounter living here. My engagements in Newton have not been without opportunities. At the end of the day, I appreciate the 'gems' who have touched my life as a result of being involved in my community.

Q: With Newton facing several tough budget seasons in the recent past -- and likely several in the future -- what do you feel needs to be cut, added or changed in the budget to keep the city's finances balanced?

A: This question reads to me as “as alderman, would you support a tax override?” To the override question, I say this - As long as there is reasonable and substantial delineation of how increased tax dollars (in either an operating or debt-exclusion override) will be spent, I would take a proposed tax override under consideration.

Making this statement does not come easily to me, as I was actively involved in fighting the proposed operating tax override in 2008. The executive office will need to demonstrate prudence in every tax request as well as provide clear spending proposals when asking Newton voters to pay higher taxes in difficult economic times. 

Q: What is the most important issue Newton Faces today?

A: It's difficult to say just one. I see two critical issues before us in Newton: (1) Our unfunded retirement liability to municipal employees and (2) our crumbling infrastructure – roads, water supply and sewers, public buildings and parks.

Q:  If elected, what is something you are going to focus on in your position for the next two years?

A: If I am chosen as one of the two representatives to Newton's Board of Alderman from Ward 1, I hope to be a part of legislation which makes Newton a place in which more businesses (retail and commercial) can open, employ and operate successfully. In addition to off-loading some of the tax burden from residents, making our community an example of economic renewal can only improve the status of our city for current and future residents and commercial and academic institutions. 

Q: Name one thing the residents of Newton may not know about you?

A: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996. (At the time I was diagnosed, I had been a ski instructor at Killington Ski Resort in Vermont for close to 10 years). Fifteen years later, despite the varying challenges of this chronic condition, I strive to enjoy every day. In order to continue making “lemonade out of lemons”, I recently joined the Government Relations Council of the New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

 

Allan Ciccone Jr.

Running for: Ward 1 alderman-at-large (incumbent)

Q: Why are you running for re-election?

A: I feel I am doing exactly what I have said I would do if elected to office back in 1997 and wish to continue to work for the people of the city. To help keep Newton one of the safest cities in the country as well as being accessible to the people of Newton.

Q: What is your background in local government or community involvement and how will it help you in this seat? Do you have other experiences that will help you in the position?

A: I am a police officer and dealing with the public in everyday life has given me unique opportunity to work with the public on everyday issues that we see in our day-to-day life. I also have had the opportunity to work on the board for two terms and as a chairman of a committee this past term that has also given me the experience to work with the public and city officials to reach a common goal.

Q: With Newton facing several tough budget seasons in the recent past -- and likely several in the future -- what do you feel needs to be cut, added or changed in the budget to keep the city's finances balanced?

A: We have to continue to keep core programs and services in place each budget year. To do so we need to plan ahead for the future of the city and especially the infrastructure of Newton and work to generate new annual revenues coming into the city.

Some of my ideas are to see more development in Newton where it can exist without hurting neighborhoods and be a benefit to the people of the city. I also have an item that is to be heard in Zoning and Planning to address the issue of non-conforming apartments. I would like to see Newton taking steps and working with homeowners who have non-conforming apartments, to get them into compliance. This would make the apartments safe, up to code, bring new annual revenues into the city with new taxes and also add to affordable housing which is always needed.

Q: What is the most important issue Newton Faces today?

A: The infrastructure of the city is in desperate need of attention. The mayor has taken steps with the board to address this very serious situation. We need to follow through with the plans set forth and keep on a schedule as to what work needs attention immediately and to work to tend to the other needs in a timely manner.

Q:  If elected, what is something you are going to focus on in your position for the next two years?

A: To continue to work with the folks of Newton. As an aldermen it is my responsibility to be accessible to the people and to work for them. Constituent work is an everyday job and it's one which keeps you in touch with the public. I enjoy this part of the job and am always meeting new people and hearing their concerns. I am part of neighborhood committees which I meet with regularly throughout the year to address issues in their part of town and I meet folks on a regular basis right at their kitchen table when situations arise. This is a part of the job not too many people see in the public eye but is still very important and keeps citizens with a place to go or call when they feel they need assistance from their Alderman.

Q: Name one thing the residents of Newton may not know about you?

A: I am on several sub-committees and have served on others as well. I was on the Fire Chief Search Committee and now I now serve on the Fire Station Sub Committee. The committee meets regularly on the renovations of each fire station throughout the city. I have been on the last several committees which have dealt with emergency situations (Blizzard, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene) as the liaison from the Board of Aldermen. I met with the emergency team put together by the mayor throughout the emergencies as well as kept in touch with our Civil Defense Official Lt. Hugh Downing to keep the board informed on where we stood during each particular event. This worked out very well with communication to keep the board informed and to relay pertinent information to the people of Newton.

I also serve on Newton's Traffic Council as the member from The Board of Aldermen. I am currently on a committee which will be studying the all night parking issue from Nov-April.

 

Scott Lennon

Running for: ward alderman (incumbent)

Alderman Lennon did not respond to the Patch questionnaire, but is running unopposed for his ward alderman seat in Ward 1. 

 

Interested in other aldermen candidates? Check out our other profiles:

Want to learn more about the School Committee candidates?

  • Note: Ward 6 School Committee member Claire Sokoloff (running for re-election uncontested) did not answer the Patch questionnaire.


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