Top 5 Watertown Political Stories of 2011
Special elections, Walmart and the teachers' contract were all part of the town's politics this year.
Political stories were aplenty in Watertown in 2011, including a double helping of special elections, Walmart and teachers contracts.
- The first special election of the year was called to fill the 10th Middlesex House seat after Peter Koutoujian stepped down to become Middlesex Sheriff. Watertown Town Councilor John Lawn won the Democratic primary in April, in which he faced candidates from Newton and Waltham, and despite having only one precinct in his hometown. He then won the special election in May against Republican James Dixon.
- A major political issue arose out of a what cannot even be called a proposed development. Word that Walmart seeks to build a store in Watertown on land off Arsenal Street prompted hundreds to come to a meeting organized by a group against the proposal. The proposal then became an issue in November's town election, as anti-Walmart candidate Mike Mandel gave Town Council Vice President Steve Corbett a run for his money, despite Mandel running a two-week write-in campaign.
- The Second Suffolk and Middlesex State Senate, which represents Watertown, became open when Steven Tolman stepped down. The second special election ensued, and Watertown State Rep. Jonathan Hecht and former Watertown firefighter and state firefighter union president Bob McCarthy were among the four candidates vying for the senate seat. In the end, Belmont State Rep. Will Brownsberger won the special Democratic primary, and appears a shoe-in with no opposition in the special election on Jan. 10.
- The School Committee has faced the question of when the teachers' contact will be signed since April, when the board voted to reject the memorandum of agreement with the Watertown Educators Association. The teachers union filed a complaint with the state accusing the School Committee with negotiating in bad faith. Parents filled the high school auditorium in March, concerned about the lack of a contract. The teachers have continued to push for a contract, but it appears 2011 will end with no new contract.
- West End residents filled meeting rooms on several occasions in 2011 to oppose the proposed 200-plus unit apartment complex on Waltham Street. The project was scrutinized by the Conservation Commission. Part of the proposal includes improving Walker Pond, near the Waltham-line. The project now sits in front of the Planning Board, which is yet to make a ruling on the project.