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Meet the Candidate: School Committee, Ward 7

Although he doesn't have an opponent in this year's election, we wanted to learn a bit more about Ward 7 School Committee member Matt Hills.

A note for voters: Each ward has one School Committee representative, which is an at-large position, meaning it is voted on by everyone in the city.

This year, the Ward 7 School Committee race is uncontested, with current Ward 7 member Matt Hills running for re-election.

Newton Patch posed six questions to all 38 candidates running in this year's election, regardless of whether the race was contested. We will be running the profiles by Ward each day, starting Oct. 26.

The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

 

Matt Hills

Running for: Ward 7 School Committee seat

 Q: Why are you running for re-election?

A: I am running for re-election because I believe I can continue to have an meaningful impact in achieving the key School Committee priorities I outlined in my first campaign in 2009:

  • Sound fiscal management. I have been involved in a variety of financial issues including as a member of the collective bargaining team
  • Academic excellence and breadth of program.  We have made decisions that, although difficult, enable the NPS to maintain both the strength and breadth of its programs
  • Superintendent oversight.I am pleased that the School Committee has been functioning more like a board, providing a wide range of benefits including the appropriate level of oversight and management of the Superintendent.

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: My professional career has been spent in consulting, investment banking and private equity, and I have served on a many public and private corporate boards hiring and overseeing management teams and companies in many different financial situations. I’ve also been involved in community activities including the Ward School PTO (Treasurer for 8 years), various municipal elections and referendums, Chair of the Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbinic Search Committee, Vice-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Elected Officials Salaries, and “the Jellinek Commission” (the Newton North Task Force).

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: The most critical financial priority is to ensure that the NPS has a sustainable financial costs structure, an issue that I am dealing with as a member of the School Committee’s collective bargaining team. Once we have a sustainable cost structure, we will continue to make tradeoffs over time in our budgets that reflect the longer-term academic and operating priorities of the School Committee.

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

A: Achieving and maintaining a sustainable financial structure (including operating costs, capital needs and reserves) while continuing to improve our school system and municipal services.

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

A: I will continue to focus on financial issues that enable us to achieve a sustainable cost structure, as we can not maintain let alone improve our school system without a sustainable cost structure. Other key issues include executing a capital plan (a long-term facilities plan), continuing initiatives that improve our schools at all levels of the system, and providing the appropriate Board-level oversight of the NPS and its senior management team.

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

A: When I was younger I lived in Nashville and Toronto (two very different places!)

 

Interested in the other School Committee candidates? Check out our profiles:

  • Ward 6: Claire Sokoloff (Note: Sokoloff declined Patch's questionnaire so there is no Q&A for Ward 6)

Want to learn more about this year's Board of Aldermen candidates?

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