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A new direction

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The election of Teresa R. Macaluso and Stephen A. Jennings to the Watertown City Council and the solid voter support of Cody J. Horbacz reflects frustration with the council’s negative attitudes and a laissez faire attitude to the future of city’s neighborhoods.

Ms. Macaluso offered a positive attitude and reaction to issues, avoiding being carried away with flights of fancy over whether or not the council should control who lives in which houses in Residential A neighborhoods. And though in the minority, she stood against the secretive council cabal that dismissed Mary M. Corriveau as the city’s successful city manager. Her leading vote tally is a result of those efforts.

Mr. Jennings provided a thoughtful approach to helping alleviate concerns held across the city. Watertown sits in the center of a booming economy, but many city neighborhoods have not benefited at all from the prosperity. In fact, as rents have increased because of an inadequate supply of housing, tenants are forced out of accommodations as landlords have reaped the benefits of housing demand exceeding the supply.

Studying census data, Mr. Jennings pointed his finger at certain neighborhoods that are a drag on the future of the city and a burden on taxpayers who are asked to support services in those deteriorating areas while their declining property values reduce city tax revenues. Mr. Jennings took his message door to door and voters sympathized, rewarding him with a council seat.

Mr. Horbacz sensed that the community wanted change, and he organized an effective campaign that moved him into third place ahead of incumbent Jeffrey M. Smith. Mr. Horbacz spent hours campaigning at public events, organized a solid fundraising effort and carried a message of council engagement in neighborhood revitalization through programs such as restoration of playgrounds and outdoor ice rinks.

While his platform was not as carefully or broadly structured as Mr. Jennings’s, his instincts were correct: Voters want more council engagement on the quality of neighborhoods and more cooperation among members as they set policy. Mr. Horbacz has had a laudable start to a political career. His message resonated and should attract other viable candidates in the next council election when the terms of Mayor Jeffrey Graham, Roxanne Burns and Joe Butler expire.

The message from voters Tuesday was fairly simple. The council needs a positive approach to issues, and it needs to work with a range of parties to make the city a better place to live. There is little or no voter patience left for endless discussion about old issues. It is time to look forward with positive attitudes designed to enhance Watertown.

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