In the News

Newton mayor affirms his city’s sanctuary stance

Newton Mayor Setti Warren is following Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s lead, with a vow to open his own city hall as a safe haven for illegal immigrants if President Trump steps up deportations.

“If in fact there are draconian measures taken by the federal government and people feel unsafe and they need places to go, of course I would,” Warren said on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” with Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot. “I think that’s who we are, that’s who our values are. I think you’d find a lot of people in my city who would open their doors.”

Despite threats from the Trump administration to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, Warren continues to stand behind Newton’s Welcoming City Ordinance, saying it “demonstrated who we are and what we’re trying to do — that we are welcoming to all people … it’s really the effort we’re making, and who we are, and our values, and how we do community policing.”

“When we have this kind of irresponsible action or lack of action at the federal level, state and local governments have to figure out how to keep people safe, keep people employed, make sure people are contributing to their communities,” he said.

Warren is mulling a run for governor, and said his campaign would be driven by changes he wants to see in Massachusetts.

“I am very concerned about education here in the commonwealth, I am very concerned about transportation, I’m concerned about housing, I’m concerned about the funding and the proposed cuts proposed at the federal government,” he said. “We need a real economic development strategy that grows jobs for people, that implements good, sound regional transportation, and that improves education opportunities … these are the things we need to be proactive about here in the state, in addition to responding to things like the sanctuary cities questions and undocumented immigrants.”

He said that a Warren run for governor wouldn’t be so much about replacing Gov. Charlie Baker, but would be about how Beacon Hill operates and about bettering the commonwealth by ensuring opportunity for everyone.

“It’s about outcomes for people and that’s what I’ve done in Newton, and that’s what kind of governor I’d be if I run.”

 

Read more: Boston Herald

Newton Mayor: ‘Of Course I Would’ Offer City Hall as Safe Haven For Immigrants

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren said Wednesday he would offer up city hall as a safe haven for undocumented immigrants if the Trump administration ramped up deportations, echoing a similar pledge made by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh earlier this year.

“If in fact there are draconian measures taken by the federal government and people feel unsafe and they need places to go, of course I would,” Warren said in an interview with Boston Herald Radio. “I think that’s who we are, that’s who our values are. I think you’d find a lot of people in my city who would open their doors.”

The mayor’s comments reaffirm Newton’s stance as a “Welcoming City,” which was passed as a city ordinance earlier this year. While not establishing Newton as a sanctuary in the vein of Somerville or Cambridge, the ordinance limits local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Sanctuary cities and municipalities enacting related legislation were put under the microscope this week following renewed warnings from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they would lose federal funding and a call for elected officials in sanctuary cities to be arrested.

Warren also touched on his possible run for governor and the issues he would address in his interview with the Herald.

 

Read more: Newton Patch

Setti Warren draws on old Dukakis team

It’s the return of the old Dukakoids. (That’s the term Governor Bill Weld’s folks gave them as they swept many of former governor Michael Dukakis’s team out of the State House in 1991).

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, whose father, Joe Warren, was a key figure in Dukakis’s political operations in the 1980s, has pulled together a finance committee for a potential run for governor that is full of people from the former governor’s network.

Phil Johnston, Lenny Aronson, Leon and Brenda Braithwaite, Barry Weiner, Kris Balderston, and Steve Grossman, among others, have joined Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, to serve on the 40-member finance team for Warren’s yet-to-be announced run for governor.

Warren, who interned in Dukakis’s health and humans services secretariat when he was a student, watched as his father served as Dukakis’s point-man in the African American community in his second and third terms.

The elder Warren, who served as assistant secretary of education under Dukakis in the 1970s and then worked as a professor and an administrator at Northeastern University, headed up what was casually known as the Warren Commission, a group of prominent Massachusetts African-American leaders who reached out across the country to promote Dukakis’s 1988 presidential bid. He died at 71 in 2010.

The Newton mayor is expected to decide in the next several months whether to join the only declared Democratic candidate, Jay Gonzalez, in the race for 2018 party nomination.

“While I have not yet made a final decision, the formation of a volunteer finance committee is one of the many important steps we are taking to prepare for a possible campaign,” Warren said.

 

Read more: Boston Globe

Newton Mayor Setti Warren looks to the future in his last State of the City address

Mayor Setti Warren urged the city to look to the future and stick to the guiding principles he has used throughout his two terms, in his final State of the City address last Tuesday night.

In November Warren announced he would not be running for a third term.

“Though this is my final State of the City, I don’t see my final year as mayor as an end — but rather a foundation for what is possible in our great city,” said Warren.

The speech highlighted the fiscal improvement in the city during Warren’s two terms, the city’s housing strategy, and he released a new transportation strategy, “Newton-in-Motion.”

Warren reiterated three guiding principles he has used since he took office in 2010: Putting in place strong fiscal discipline, making tough fiscal policies based on outcomes for individuals and families and listening and bringing people together to solve difficult challenges.

“Daring to make what might seem impossible possible so that one can make the lives better for people — with a guiding belief in the goodness and values of the people you work for — the residents of Newton,” said Warren.

 

Fiscal strategy

Warren outlined the fiscal strategy during his two terms in office, starting in 2010, when he took office and the city faced a large projected budget deficit.

His administration began using zero-based budgeting, making data-driven decisions and restructuring union contracts, he said. Warren sited these changes as reasons the city has been able to eliminate structural deficit and get expenditures in line with revenue growth.

Warren also highlighted the city’s double triple-A bond rating. The city has maintained a triple bond rating with Moody’s Investor Services for the past seven years and recently got a second highest rating from Standard & Poor’s. This allowed the city to refinance more than $90 million of previously issued debt saving the city more than $16 million in interest payments over the next 22 years.

 

Sustainability

Warren connected finance and sustainability when he discussed how using renewable energy will save taxpayers money.

“Our administration believes strongly that climate change is a threat to all and that we can play a significant role in protecting the environment while saving the taxpayer money,” said Warren.

Recently the city has rolled out a new community-share solar program that provides more than 900 low-income families with discounts on their monthly energy bill.

 

Equity

Warren said that the income inequality gap is growing in Newton. His administration created an initiative called “Economic Growth for All.” The initiative focuses housing transport, childcare, health and wellness—issues that the Mayor says are key to fostering a middle class.

Warren formed a partnership with the President of Boston College, Father William Leahy, to address the income inequality in Newton and increase economic opportunity, according to his speech.

So far there are four working groups each focusing on different piece of equity in Newton. The initiative includes a summer youth internship program and a pilot program on closing the achievement gap.

The Empath pilot, a program for low-income heads of households with children, is also a piece of the initiative. The Empath program allows access to housing and builds skills of achieve fiscal sustainability.

The mayor also highlighted the housing strategy in the city, which includes seven sites that Warren sites as having the potential to better position Newton in terms of economic development, transportation and housing in the future.

“Moderately priced, diverse housing also is critical for business that need qualified employees to meet their workforce requirements. If Newton dos not meet its housing challenge, we are in jeopardy of losing businesses and attracting them to our city,” said Warren.

 

‘Newton in Motion’

During his speech Warren revealed a new transportation program that outlines plans for a bike share program within the next 18 months and expanding a new bike lane program. The plan also includes a pilot for a public-private shuttle to transport employees to work sties during commuting hours. Plans for enhancing streetscapes in West Newton and continuing plans in Walnut and Washington Street and Newton Corner are also outlined in the plan.

 

Innovation

The Mayor reaffirmed his commitment the innovation economy in Newton. He discussed the importance of the two innovation districts, N2 Innovation District and the Charles River Mill District, as well as the Newton Innovation Center, which is a partnership with MassChallenge. Soon renovations will begin on Needham Street to provide a more walkable, bikeable and easier traffic flow for the N2 district.

 

‘One Newton’

Warren urged residents to take the One Newton pledge, where residents commit to building a welcoming and inclusive city for all regardless of race, sex, political persuasion, background or sexual orientation. Recently he has brought in the organization Facing History Ourselves to help the city with this initiative.

“I believe that a strong community showing its signing onto the ‘One Newton’ pledge demonstrates our commitment to civil discourse and assuring that everyone in Newton,” said Warren.

Warren, a Newton native and U.S. Navy veteran, is widely expected to run for governor of Massachusetts in 2018.

 

Read more: Newton Tab

One-on-One with Newton Mayor Setti Warren

 

Read more: WGBH

Newton Lesson Can Be Massachusetts Win

Setti Warren wants to be the second Democrat named Warren to hover like a bright star shining above Massachusetts’ political landscape. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren strode onto the national political stage after beating Republican Scott Brown — and Newton Mayor Warren wants to be the state’s next governor.

He hasn’t announced his candidacy. But the veteran and former Clinton administration official is holding the obligatory conversations to get the word out on his potential run.

He met with the Item’s editorial board on Wednesday after attending a meet-and-greet in Salem and plans to make similar stops over the next four or five months before deciding if he is going to throw his hat into the ring in 2018.

Warren is the full package when it comes to aspirational politicians. He is young and energetic. He served his country enlisting in the Navy after 9/11. He has strong campaign and governing experience and his mayoral track record is an impressive and bold one.

In seeking a second term as mayor in 2013, Warren tied his political fortunes to property-tax- override proposals aimed at giving Newton more revenue to invest in infrastructure. He knew the political risks involved in tying his reelection so closely to the override proposal. But the override passed, Warren got reelected and he intends to duplicate his formula for success if he runs for governor.

Warren backs a proposed millionaire’s tax adding a 4 percent surcharge on the state’s highest wage earners. “This is about asking people really well off to make an investment in the state,” he said.

If Warren runs and becomes the Democratic Party’s choice for governor, it is almost a certainty he will face off in November 2018 against Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Swampscott resident and first-term governor enjoys great voter poll ratings and Baker is taking full advantage of that odd Massachusetts political balance formula subscribing to the notion that voters favor a Democrat-controlled state Legislature and — with Deval Patrick as the exception in recent history — a Republican governor.

It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to conjure up an image of Baker licking his chops at the prospect of running against a Democrat unafraid of raising taxes. But the race for governor is two years away and plenty is bound to happen politically over the next two years.

President Trump might follow through with his promise to spend money on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and pour money into Massachusetts. A federal cash infusion would certainly boost Baker’s electability. But the governor is no friend of Donald Trump’s and Trump knows Massachusetts voted solidly for Hillary Clinton.

Warren knows he has an uphill battle to win the governor’s office. But he has some strong assets working in his favor. He is a skilled listener who wants to hear what people have to say. He is also an articulate advocate for rebuilding what he calls Massachusetts’ “abominable” transportation system.

Warren understands why extending the Blue Line to Lynn works economically. He knows the idea makes simple mass-transit common sense. The Baker administration shows no signs of moving on extension proposals regardless of how long the city has lobbied for it — and pulled the plug on a Lynn-to-Boston ferry last summer.

Can Warren — if he runs and wins — replicate his success in Newton on the state stage? The answer is “yes,” if logic and conversation carry the day.

 

Read more: ItemLive

On the Record: Setti Warren’s talks about experience as mayor, veteran

Major Mass. Dems Back Newton Mayor in Anticipated Gubernatorial Run

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren has yet to announce a run against Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018, but he already has some prominent Massachusetts Democrats on his side.

In a letter Friday, former chairs of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Steve Grossman, Phil Johnston and John Walsh threw their support behind Warren as a challenger to Baker.

“As former chairs of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, we have decided to support Newton Mayor Setti Warren as he looks at challenging Charlie Baker,” Grossman, Johnston and Walsh wrote. “Setti has the passion, commitment to progressive values, and track record of leadership that we need more than ever.”

Warren announced last year he would not run for re-election for mayor of Newton and has since been looking at a possible gubernatorial run.

Yesterday, he called on Baker to veto a proposed $18 million pay package for legislators, staffers and members of the state judiciary approved by the Senate, saying the vote was one that “cannot be a rushed discussion behind closed doors” and that he was “strongly opposed to the way this unfolded.”

 

Read more: Newton Patch

Groups polarized by politics find common ground

My two kids probably could not think of anything more torturous than being forced to watch a boring speech by the President of the United States, but I made them watch President Obama’s farewell address last Tuesday, anyway.

I told them the things parents usually say: You might learn something. You’re witnessing history. When the president addresses the nation, everyone should listen.

But the truth is, making them watch our first African-American president say goodbye was more about me than them. I didn’t even care if they paid attention; this was a moment I wanted to experience with my arms around them.

As I sat there, a beaming parent and proud Democrat, listening to him once again articulating the progressive themes of his presidency, I started clapping along with applause breaks. Then I heard something that almost made me fall off the couch.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life,” President Obama said.

Earlier that night, before I settled in to relive Obama’s list of accomplishments with partisan appreciation, I had convened diverse group of people from my city of Newton for just the kind of frank and friendly conversation the president was suggesting.

A couple of weeks after Election Day last November, I received an email from a fellow veteran and self-described “deplorable” supporter of President-elect Trump. Some days later we sat down to talk, not debate or argue or yell, just talk. It was an eye opening experience and I wanted more.

Along with that Trump-backer, I decided to do a little experiment. I invited three folks who voted for Trump, and three who supported Hilary Clinton to dinner at a popular local restaurant. Every one of them was a little apprehensive, and I’ll admit that I was a little worried about how things would go. But once we started talking and listening to each other, the evening exceeded my highest expectations.

We sat together and talked about where we came from, our backgrounds, and what led us to vote the way we did. Most people in the group did not know one another. As President Obama would suggest hours later, these were strangers who came together in real life to talk.

I ate my Cobb Salad and watched as people with diametrically opposed political views exchanged small talk instead of angry tweets and swapped childhood stories instead of stale talking points. If you gave a quick look to our table, it would have looked like any other group of friends having a warm conversation on a brisk and rainy evening.

It was the routine normalness of the conversation that gave me hope. After an extraordinary election that exposed the white hot fissures in our national political discourse, watching these new friends smile and laugh together reminded me of how much we can achieve when we start to see each others as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens instead of members of rival camps.

The decorated Vietnam veteran who likes Trump and the High School principal who was alarmed by the President-elect’s rhetoric both agree that America is a country where opportunity should be open for all. The pro-life nursery school teacher and the devoted Democrat who regretted not having more time to volunteer to help elect the first woman agree on the importance of national security, and keeping every citizen safe, both at home and abroad.

We have a lot of work to do to get our nation back on track, but our first priority as engaged citizens should be to start breaking the bubble too many of us have created around ourselves by listening only to those with whom we agree. It’s an important project, but it does not have to be a complicated one.

As President Obama reminded us, sometimes you sit down for dinner with a stranger and leave with a friend.

 

Read more: MassLive

Warren’s handling of city finances deserves praise

As an alderman, and now city councilor, who began serving this community in 1996, I have reviewed and passed 16 budgets under three different mayors and have intimate knowledge of our city’s fiscal history. In the past seven years I have watched Mayor Warren do extraordinary things, most notably manage the city’s finances for today and the future.

This commentary is in response to a recent column submitted by Joshua Norman. Although Mr. Norman purports to be an expert and cites many facts, unfortunately, he often confuses his facts, thus reporting incorrect information. I would like to set the record straight. The Angier School opened on time and came in at least $1 million under budget. The Zervas School is well on its way to opening on time and under budget. And the cost estimate of the Cabot School to the Newton taxpayers is not projected to exceed the $35 million that was projected in the fall of 2012.

Rather than continuing the pension-funding plan of the prior administration, Mayor Warren has shaved nine years off the funding schedule of this liability. Prior to his taking office the City had not yet even begun to address retiree health care liabilities. Under the mayor’s leadership, the City now has more than $4 million in a fund to address these costs and has established a plan to fully fund this significant liability by the year 2042.

Additionally, the mayor has worked with the City Council to set aside more than $19 million in a Rainy Day Fund, maintain the City’s Triple A bond rating, (now analyzed by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s), reduce average class size in the Newton Public Schools while dealing with enrollment growth of more than 1,000 students in the past six years, implement holistic traffic signalization and village center improvements, and introduce an aggressive pavement management plan that will produce significant roadway improvements throughout the City.

Over the course of the last seven years and working in conjunction with the City Council the mayor has refinanced outstanding debt which will save Newton taxpayers almost $20 million in interest payments, implemented energy efficiency projects that will save another $25 million over 20 years, eliminated the “structural deficit”, developed conservative financial forecasts, implemented comprehensive financial policies, made appropriate investment in the City’s capital infrastructure, and negotiated collective bargaining agreements that do not exceed the City’s revenue structure.

I encourage residents to visit the City’s website and read the Mayor’s FY18-FY22 Five-Year Financial Forecast. Per the document: “This five-year, comprehensive, financial forecast is meant to enable the leadership of the City of Newton to proactively manage personnel costs, operating expenditures, capital improvement plans, technology improvement plans, equipment replacement schedules, and debt service schedules, while maintaining the City’s Triple A bond ratings, providing funding for long term liabilities, setting a path for future generations and ultimately assuring the sustainability of the City of Newton for decades to come.”

 

Read more: Newton Tab