LAST YEAR, voters in Newton shut the door on a business-as-usual tax increase by rejecting an override of Proposition 2 1/2, so the next mayor will need to give the city a management makeover to bring its costs in line with its resources. The best candidate to provide that makeover is Ruth Balser.
Balser, now a state representative, has the edge over opponent Setti Warren, both in experience and in determination to throttle back rising costs for municipalities. In the Legislature, Balser has been a strong voice for measures to give towns and cities more resources, from the bill stripping telecommunications companies of the tax exemption on their equipment to the bill letting municipalities piggyback on the state’s meals and lodging taxes. She pushed for these measures in spite of opposition from legislative leaders.
Newton has the luxury of choosing between two impressive candidates, but Balser’s grit and commitment offer the best hope of leading Newton out of a fiscal dead end.