The City Charter (Link)
The Newton City Charter is our city's governing document. A copy of it can be found online here. The charter lays out how we organize our city government. This includes:
- The term and responsibilities of the Mayor
- The size, term, and responsibilities of the Board of Aldermen (Soon to be City Council)
- The size, term, term limits, and responsibilities of the School Committee
- The procedures for election for various offices
- The procedures for initiatives and referendums
The charter commission represents an opportunity to examine all of these rules and procedures. I believe that we should not hastily make sweeping changes to a charter that has served Newton well over the past five decades. However, it may be time to modernize given that Newton hasn't had a major charter review since 1971.
The Charter Commission (Link)
The city has published detailed information about the Charter Commission process, available online here. The ballot for this November 3rd's election will include a yes or no question whether the city should review the charter, and provide a list of potential candidates who would serve as commissioners if the charter review is approved. Potential candidates are required to collect 100 signatures from registered Newton voters to be on the ballot. Voters in Newton will elect 9 Charter Commissioners in the November 3rd, 2015 elections.
Within 45 days of election, the commission will hold a public hearing. The charter commission would continue to hold meetings and deliberate, with a preliminary report specifying their recommended changes to the charter due within 16 months of their election. Within 4 weeks of that report's release, the commission would again hold a public hearing. Within 18 months after its election, or sometime in May of 2017, the commission would be required to produce a final report, which would be subject to the approval of the voters in the next election. The Charter Commission would cease to exist 30 days after the charter election.