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Would-be successors line up for Newton mayoral race

Posted May 12, 2008 08:28 AM

With Mayor David Cohen's nose-diving popularity culminating in last week's announcement that he will not seek reelection, at least three people are seriously considering running for the city's top job.

Among them is Democratic state Representative Ruth Balser, a longtime friend and supporter of Cohen, who said she can be a force for healing in Newton.

Balser.JPG Ruth Balser (Globe file photo)
"I like to think that I'm someone who can work with lots of different people," Balser said in a phone interview yesterday. "Hopefully I could help lead a consensus."

Consensus in Newton is a rarity these days, as the city undertakes construction of the most expensive high school in the state and faces a $12 million override. City officials have been criticized for the construction of the $197 million high school by parents, state officials, and a fiscal watchdog group that said it has made Newton a "poster child" for suburban excess. The override vote, set for May 20, remains another contentious issue that has pitted a faction that wants improved funding for city services against residents who say local taxes are already too high.

Cohen, an override supporter, has been a polarizing figure on both fronts. On Friday, under pressure from some of his most trusted political allies, he announced he will not seek reelection. The news came after an ill-timed disclosure by Cohen that he planned to seek a 28 percent pay raise. Some residents said he should have stepped down sooner.

Jockeying among Cohen's would-be successors has begun.

warren.JPG Setti Warren (Globe file photo)
Setti Warren, an aide to Senator John F. Kerry, has indicated he plans to enter the race. Warren is on active duty in the Navy on a yearlong tour in Iraq. His supporters have filed the required paperwork with the city to create an exploratory committee and begin raising funds. They have also launched a website, "Newton for Setti Warren." He is due back from overseas duty in October.

Ward 6 Alderman Ken Parker, a longtime critic of the mayor and his management of the new high school's design financing, has also formed an exploratory committee and a website. He said he supports the override.

Parker.jpg
Ken Parker (parker2009.org)
"I'm not going there," he said, when asked if the mayor should resign.

"There's been a lot of division recently," he added. "We need to come back together."

Read more about the fight to be Newton's next mayor in the online edition of the City & Region section.

-- Meg Woolhouse

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2 comments so far...
  1. A diehard Cohen supporter for our next Mayor? You gotta be kidding. You can't have it both ways-and that's what Balser wants. She had every opportunity to stand up to what's been going on and she didn't. The northside of the city will never support her.

    Posted by ron May 12, 08 07:15 PM
  1. A Cohen look-a-like, which is what Balser is, will not have a chance in Newton. It's time for change not mroe of the same.

    Posted by anne May 13, 08 05:46 AM
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