Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs in 2018

By Alexander Burns, New York Times
Date: May 15, 2017

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted. The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.

In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker.

And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base.

Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.

“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”

“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.

“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.

In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new. Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

A handful of somewhat older black leaders may also test their odds in 2018: Carl Brewer, 60, a former mayor of Wichita, is running for governor in deeply conservative Kansas, and in Maryland, Rushern Baker, the 58-year-old Prince George’s County executive, may also seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican with strong poll ratings.

In Florida, where Democrats have not won a governor’s race since 1994, Mr. Gillum, 37, said it was time to discard a losing formula: The party has typically nominated candidates for governor who are white, moderate and from the Tampa area.

Mr. Gillum, by contrast, has offered himself as a candidate of the left. A firebrand on the stump, he has called insistently for a rollback of Republican education policies and for aggressive action against climate change. Since House Republicans passed a bill that would gut the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Gillum has made protecting health care regulations on the state level a centerpiece of his message.

“There’s muscle memory that’s been built up over a long time about what the candidate has to look like, sound like, where they have to come from,” he said. “In our case, in Florida, it hasn’t worked.”

That sense of frustration among black Democrats parallels, in some respects, the exasperation Democrats in general have voiced after the 2016 election.

If certain black candidates like Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams are urging an untested path, they may find primary voters more receptive to the idea after the failure of conventional Democratic strategies against Mr. Trump. Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams have already attracted significant interest from national liberal donors: Mr. Gillum’s first fund-raising report showed contributions from members of the Soros family, and several donors supportive of Ms. Abrams are expected to create a multimillion-dollar committee to advocate her election, according to people briefed on their plans.

The determination to compete in 2018 may run deeper in the black community, where the sense of political exclusion is even more acute. With the end of the Obama administration, there are few black Democrats in senior positions of power: just two black Democrats in the Senate and no black governors of either party. A third black senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, is a Republican.

There is limited optimism among African-American Democrats that national party leaders will work aggressively to change that. Several of the most promising black candidates or would-be candidates — including Mr. Gillum, Ms. Abrams and Mr. Jealous — are likely to face contested primaries against well-known, well-funded white opponents. And the battle for control of the House and Senate is likely to be fought largely in rural states with few minority voters, and in suburban congressional districts where right-of-center whites often cast the decisive votes.

Symone D. Sanders, a spokeswoman for Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential campaign, said she was concerned that national Democrats might reflexively favor white candidates in close races, rather than trusting black candidates to win over swing voters.

“They are not going to get there on their own, so they are going to need to be pushed,” Ms. Sanders said of Democratic leaders in Washington. “We need to have candid conversations about the lack of recruitment, the lack of support, for candidates of color on the Democratic side.”

At a recent fund-raising event in Baltimore, a lineup of black Democratic officials and strategists lamented what they described as an attitude of neglect toward black candidates in some quarters of the national party. The gathering raised money for Collective PAC, a new political action committee set up specifically to benefit black Democrats running for office.

Speaking at a brightly lit downtown cafe, Jeff Johnson, a Democratic strategist and pundit, said the Democratic Party routinely told black candidates and advocates, “We love you, but wait till next time.”

“I’m frankly tired of being told what to do by people who don’t know my community,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Jealous, who also addressed the Collective PAC event, said in an interview that he hoped the next elections could echo the moment after Jesse Jackson’s presidential bid in 1988, when Democrats rebounded from defeat by electing the first black mayor of New York City, David N. Dinkins, and the first black governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder.

“Our greatest opportunity is just to be who we are — to be unapologetically who we are, to be clear about what we believe in,” Mr. Jealous said. “And I believe we can build an even bigger, much more diverse coalition.”

Yet for black Democratic politicians and donors, that optimism exists alongside a sharp feeling of concern about the 2018 elections, and a pervasive awareness that the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency has left their community’s political power at a low ebb.

As Mr. Warren, the Newton mayor, dined in South Boston in late March with supporters of a possible run for governor, one ally, Darryl Settles, a real estate developer and restaurateur, said the sudden absence of black Democratic leaders was especially conspicuous in Massachusetts, where the state’s first black governor, Deval Patrick, left office in 2015.

Mr. Settles, who lives in Newton, recalled that as recently as 2014 his children had attended a school with portraits of Mr. Warren, Mr. Patrick and Mr. Obama on the walls. A different set of portraits hangs there now.

“If we don’t support black candidates, then my son, who’s 11 years old, and my daughter, who’s 12 years old, would never, ever think to be a public servant,” Mr. Settles said, urging black Democrats to pursue high office. “If they’ve got some swag, if they’ve got a skill set, it’s their duty.”

Read More: New York Times

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A path to more diverse housing in Newton

By Mayor Setti Warren, Wicked Local Newton
Date: May 13, 2017

The high cost of housing in Newton is well-documented. In 2016, the median sale price of a single-family home in Newton was $1.1 million. We understood that for many people to be able to move to Newton or age in place, we needed a blueprint to ensure that we had diverse housing options in our city while maintaining everything we all love about Newton: the village feel, open spaces, and diverse communities. This is why I released the Newton Housing Strategy in June of last year.

In this housing strategy, in addition to seven priority locations that are ideal for housing development, I put forth two policy priorities to be taken up by the City Council. On Monday, April 3, the Newton City Council voted 22-2 to pass one of these priorities: an ordinance that allows internal accessory apartments by right. The passage of this ordinance marks the first time that accessory apartments will be allowed by right in all Newton single and two-family homes.

This ordinance is a vital component of our housing strategy. It is a great step in creating more housing diversity and moderately priced units, giving options to our families and seniors. Accessory apartments will provide much-needed diversity to Newton’s housing stock, increasing options and affordability. This new accessory apartment ordinance will allow individuals, seniors and families to reside and thrive in Newton and take advantage of all the amenities that the city has to offer.

I am thankful of the collaborative work with the City Council and community members who have worked hard to get this important ordinance passed in our city.

 

What is an accessory apartment?

An accessory apartment is a fully contained, separate unit located on a single- or two-family property. The unit is a full, self-contained housing unit with its own entrance, kitchen and living space. It can be in the house itself or in a building located on the property, such as a carriage house or converted garage.

 

What does the new ordinance do?

The new ordinance allows for the construction of interior accessory apartments by right and detached accessory apartments through the special permit process. The owner of the household with an accessory unit must live on the premises. There are size restrictions on the interior unit as well as other zoning and building code requirements.

The ordinance does not change the dimensional requirements from the city’s zoning code—all setback, height, and floor area ratio requirements still apply.

 

What it means

This new ordinance will have a direct impact on people looking to stay in or move to Newton. It will allow seniors to more easily age in place with smaller dwelling units and an option for supplemental income and create options for young people and families looking to put down roots.

The ultimate success of this ordinance depends on you: our residents. We know that this process can be difficult to navigate. I encourage anyone interested in building an accessory apartment to call our Department of Inspectional Services at 617-796-1060 or visit newtonma.gov/accessoryapartments for more information.

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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City of Newton, Newton-Wellesley Hospital partner in opioid fight

By John Hilliard, Boston Globe
Date: May 11, 2017

Newton-Wellesley Hospital and the city of Newton say their new partnership will help in the fight against the state’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

A new Substance Abuse Disorders Service team at the hospital will expand clinical education and training programs for providers, plus offer treatment for patients with chronic pain and substance use disorders, according to a joint statement.

The effort builds on an existing partnership between the city and the hospital to battle addiction: Three doctors from the hospital participate in the city’s Prevention, Awareness, Treatment, and Hope program, which targets opioid and other drug abuse issues.

The PATH program offers drug abuse education for teens and has established a permanent drug kiosk with Newton police to encourage safe drug disposal, according to the city.

“We look forward to building on our important partnership with the City of Newton to address the deepening and deadly substance abuse crisis in our community,” said Michael R. Jaff, the hospital’s president.

The newly created team to target drug abuse will consist of medical professionals, a social worker, and additional staff.

The hospital has the experience for treating substance abuse and working in the Newton community, Mayor Setti Warren said in a statement.

“By providing long-term care through recovery coaches and other support services, this new program will give those suffering from addiction the treatment they need for a successful recovery,” Warren said.

Almost 2,000 people are believed to have died from opioid overdoses last year in Massachusetts, where the number of deaths related to the drug has nearly quadrupled since 2010, according to statistics published by the state Department of Public Health.

Newton Police Chief David MacDonald said preventing and treating drug abuse are among the priorities of the city’s police.

“We are seeing this crisis play out on the front lines in our community, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds,” said MacDonald.

Read more: Boston Globe

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Mayors Promise to Fight Community Development Cuts

By Donna Kimura, Affordable Housing Finance
Date: April 18, 2017

Local leaders vowed a fierce fight to protect the long-established Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

They are taking their stand as the 43-year-old program, which is used by communities to create affordable housing and revitalize neighborhoods, is targeted for elimination under the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

“At a time when many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet, these budget cuts would be a disaster,” said Setti Warren, mayor of Newton, Mass.

He and other mayors spoke out on the importance of the CDBG program to their communities Wednesday during National Community Development Week.

“Simply put, the president’s budget proposal to eliminate CDBG and HOME would make our cities less safe, less healthy, and more expensive to live in,” Warren said.

Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget blueprint slashes funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by $6.2 billion, or 13.2% from current levels, with the agency receiving $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding. The proposal seeks to eliminate the approximately $3 billion CDBG program as well as the approximately $1 billion HOME program.

“The president’s proposal is unacceptable,” said Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C. “These cuts proposed by the administration would not reduce the federal budget deficit, but they would hamstring local community development and all of our workforce housing efforts when our cities and citizens can least afford it.”

The elimination of CDBG could cripple the redevelopment of the deteriorating Gonzales Gardens public housing project in Columbia, he said.

Officials and their partners have been working on redeveloping the property into a mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood. The revitalization effort has a significant CDBG component to it, according to Benjamin.

Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County (Texas) commissioner and first vice president of the National Association of Counties, called CDBG the “No. 1 funding source” for replacing deteriorating infrastructure in his county’s older residential areas and a key funding source for housing programs.

“Our country is facing an affordable housing crisis as well as deteriorating infrastructure,” he said. “For every 100 households in Tarrant County seeking affordable housing options, there are only 19 affordable units to be had.”

Overall, the CDBG program provides funding to 1,200 states, territories, and local governments, according to Bonnie Moore, director of the community development department in Shreveport, La., and president of the National Community Development Association.

Approximately half of Shreveport’s $1.6 million in CDBG funds go toward affordable housing, said Moore, noting that the city has a poverty rate of about 22%. “Affordable housing is one of the tools to reduce poverty in our community,” she said.

The funding stretches across the country. New York City receives approximately $151 million in CDBG funds; Albuquerque, N.M., gets $3.8 million; and Nashville, Tenn., gets $4.7 million, said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“This is not small change,” he said. “This is a program that’s been infused in the local government since 1974. It would cause great devastation to city budgets as we have worked to come out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression.”

The conference assembled the local leaders for a conference call with reporters.

Mayor Brian Wahler of Piscataway, N.J., added that CDBG funds help his city to supplement the regional Meals on Wheels program. His point is that the CDBG has been an extremely flexible tool for local communities to target their unique needs.

Potential cuts to the popular Meals on Wheels program drew much media attention when initially announced.

Although CDBG has received strong bipartisan support over the years, the officials said they are taking no chances.

They are calling on the administration and Congress to reject the proposed cuts and at least maintain funding at current levels, citing that funding for CDBG has decreased by about $1.4 billion since 2001.

Brooks said CDBG may have been targeted in the budget proposal because it’s size.

“What we’re doing today is to try to say to the Congress and to the administration that yes this is a large number, but it creates large benefits for communities across this country,” he said. “In putting together the budget, perhaps they should use a scalpel instead of a meat-ax.”

Read More: Affordable Housing Finance

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Setti Warren calls for ‘people’s pledge’ in 2018 race for governor

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa
Date: April 4, 2017

There are now two Warrens in Massachusetts calling for a 2018 “people’s pledge.”

Newton Mayor Setti Warren said Tuesday he would seek an agreement among candidates to ban advertising from independent political groups in the looming 2018 gubernatorial race — if he runs.

The Democratic mayor — who is considering and reportedly fundraising for a campaign against Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call last week to bring back the so-called “people’s pledge,” which was first brokered in 2012 during her race against Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.

“If the People’s Pledge was good enough for Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, it should be good enough for people running for governor,” Setti Warren said in a statement Tuesday.

Warren cited a study by the progressive advocacy group Common Cause that found the pledge “drastically reduced outside spending” in the 2012 Massachusetts race compared to other races at the time. The 2013 study also found that the agreement increased the influence of small-dollar donations and resulted in “significantly less negative advertising” (even if the 2012 campaign did become notably ugly).

Nevertheless, Warren said Tuesday that the pledge — which requires candidates who benefit from outside advertising to pay a penalty — would “keep anonymous millionaires and billionaires from rigging the 2018 elections in Massachusetts.”

“We know that the ground-breaking agreement brokered between Scott Brown and Sen. Warren in 2012 worked then and it will work now,” he said.

Warren said he would call for the pledge in both the gubernatorial Democratic primary and the general election. So far, Democrat Jay Gonzalez, a former budget aide for Gov. Deval Patrick, is the only person to officially announce their candidacy in the 2018 gubernatorial race.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Gonzalez decried the increase in outside spending since the 2010 Citizens United court decision and said he supports measures to “make government more accessible and responsive to all.”

“Once there are other declared candidates for Governor to talk to about the best way to limit dark money from influencing the Governor’s race, I intend to talk to them,” Gonzalez said.

Asked about Warren’s calls for a people’s pledge, Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Terry MacCormack reiterated Tuesday that neither Baker nor Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito had yet made any announcements regarding their intention to seek re-election.

“They remain focused on leading an accountable, efficient and responsive state government,” MacCormack said.

In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Brown agreed that, if either benefited from outside advertising, said candidate would have to donate a penalty worth half the value of the ad to a charity of the other’s choosing. Brown twice agreed to pay a penalty after third-party groups ran ads in favor of his campaign.

During the 2014 gubernatorial race, Baker rebuffed calls from then-Attorney General Martha Coakley, his Democratic opponent, for a people’s pledge. Baker went on to receive more than $11 million in outside spending (mostly from the Republican Governors’ Association), compared to $6.9 million received by Coakley, en route to winning the election.

According to Tuesday’s filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Warren has just over $58,024 in his campaign account. Last November, he announced he would not seek a third term as mayor of Newton.

Gonzalez has more than $116,864 on-hand for his gubernatorial bid, per his most recent filing Monday.

According to a campaign filing Monday, Baker has more than $5.2 million.

Read More: Boston.com

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Hand: From one war veteran to another: Thanks

By Jim Hand, Sun Chronicle
Date: April 2, 2017

Politicians usually can’t wait to talk about themselves, but the other day in Attleboro Newton Mayor Setti Warren delayed waxing about his own virtues to pay tribute to someone in the audience.

Warren told the crowd at a Democratic breakfast that he was talking to Peter Brock of North Attleboro earlier and learned Brock is a Vietnam veteran.

A likely candidate for governor who served as an intelligence specialist in Iraq, Warren said when he got home he got a warm welcome.

But, for guys like Brock, America was not always so welcoming to those returning from Vietnam.

Warren asked the crowd to show its appreciation for Brock’s service and the long-time local activist got a sustained ovation that seemed to touch him.

Brock, an Army veteran, quickly diverted attention to Bill Bowles of Attleboro, who was a crew chief in a Huey helicopter while serving in Vietnam in 1968. Perhaps it was Warren’s own service that makes him sensitive to those like Brock.

Warren was in the naval reserves. His father fought in Korea and his grandfather at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In any case, several people at the event said later they thought it was a nice gesture on the part of Warren.

Read more: Sun Chronicle

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Newton mayor affirms his city’s sanctuary stance

By Boston Herald
Date: March 30, 2017

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

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

By Alex Newman, Newton Patch
Date: March 30, 2017

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

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Setti Warren to Trump AG: ‘Welcoming City will remain law of the land here’

By Wicked Local Newton
Date: March 28, 2017

Mayor Setti Warren pulled no punches in his response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement Monday that reaffirmed the Trump administration’s vow to withhold federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Newton’s recently approved “Welcoming City” ordinance limits local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“With all due respect to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions doesn’t decide what happens in Newton. Instead of issuing threats from Washington, D.C., the Trump administration might want to take a look at our community-based process that brought proponents of sanctuary cities and supporters of Donald Trump together. The Welcoming City ordinance we passed in Newton brought together people of many perspectives with the ultimate goal of keeping our community safe.”

Warren added Newton will not be a community where police are part of any “deportation force.”

“Or where immigrants are fearful of being torn from their families for minor offenses,” he said. “We will be a community where all feel welcome and safe, no matter their immigration status. There was overwhelming support from the Newton community to affirm these values through an ordinance and the Welcoming City ordinance will remain the law of the land here.”

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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Setti Warren draws on old Dukakis team

By Franck Philips, Boston Globe
Date: March 14, 2017

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

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

By Laura Lovett, Wicked Local Newton
Date: February 22, 2017

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: Wicked Local Newton

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One-on-One with Mayor Setti Warren

Setti Warren speaks with Greater Boston’s Jim Braude
Date: February 14, 2017

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Newton Lessons can be Massachusetts Win

By Lynn Daily Item Editorial Board
Date: February 2, 2017

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: Lynn Daily Item

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

Setti Warren speaks with On The Record’s Janet Wu and Ed Harding
Date: January 29th, 2017

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Major Mass. Dems Back Newton Mayor in Anticipated Gubernatorial Run

By Alex Newman, Newton Patch
Date: January 27, 2017

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

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Groups polarized by politics find common ground

By Setti Warren, MassLive
Date: January 16, 2017

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

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Warren’s handling of city finances deserves praise

By: Rick Lipoff, Newton Tab
Date: December 8, 2016

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

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