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Candidates line up to run for key local government seats in May election

Voters fill out ballots during the May 2, 2023 election in Brookline. Photo by Zoe Zekos
January 9, 2024

Editor’s note: This article marks the start of our 2024 election coverage. Stay tuned in the months leading up to the May election for more, including in-depth interviews with every candidate running for town-wide office.

A Select Board member is running for School Committee, and a School Committee member is running for Select Board.

It could be a topsy-turvy town election in Brookline this year, with several open seats, and many candidates lining up to fill them.

The election is set to take place on May 7. Since December, a number of candidates have already announced their intention to run.

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Here are the positions up for grabs, and the residents who have thrown their names into the ring.

Select Board

There are two seats up for election on the town’s Select Board, which is the executive branch of town government. The five-member board serves many of the same functions as a mayor would in a city. It adopts administrative policies for the town, implements and enforces the rules and bylaws set by Town Meeting, hires town leaders like the police chief and approves licenses for businesses.

There are four candidates running for the two seats so far, one incumbent and three challengers. The top two total vote getters will be elected.

Bernard Greene

Bernard Greene, the current chair of the board who was first elected to this position in 2015, is running for reelection.

In his announcement, Greene laid out four main issues he plans to focus on if reelected: economic and fiscal stability, diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainable climate action and smart residential and commercial growth.

David Pearlman

David Pearlman, the current chair of the School Committee and a ten-year Town Meeting member, is running for Select Board as well. In his campaign announcement, he cited “leadership experience, deep Brookline roots, professional background, pragmatic creativity, temperament, and record of bringing diverse communities together through difficult circumstances.”

Pearlman says he will focus on affordability, climate sustainability and enhancing recreational and learning experiences in Brookline.

Susan Park

The third candidate is Susan Park, a Town Meeting member and former Advisory Committee member who has worked as a teacher and writer. Park led the successful campaign to reduce the cap on the number of retail marijuana licenses in Brookline from five to four.

On her campaign website, Park said she will focus on government transparency, mental health, town finances and the housing crisis, among other issues.

Alec Lebovitz

Alec Lebovitz, a Town Meeting member since 2022, is also a candidate for Select Board. Lebovitz led the effort for Town Meeting to approve a measure calling for rent stabilization in Brookline, which narrowly passed in November.

On his website, Lebovitz, highlights a number of key issues including housing affordability, climate and sustainability and financial management.

School Committee

There are three seats up for grabs on the nine-member School Committee, which hires and evaluates the Public Schools of Brookline’s superintendent, reviews and approves budgets for schools, and sets educational goals and policies for the district.

Miriam Aschkenasy

So far, two candidates have confirmed that they are running.

Miriam Aschkenasy is leaving her seat on the Select Board to vie for a spot on the committee. She said she is running a “co-campaign” with Lebovitz, and they will share a campaign team.

Aschkenasy, who has two children in Brookline schools, says she is running for the committee to support the school system, with the advantage of her political expertise from her time on the Select Board. She wants to help the district better respond to the “post-pandemic needs” of students. She also said she fully supports superintendent Linus Guillory, who has come under fire recently for his response to the war in Israel.

On her campaign website, Aschkenasy lists priorities of inclusivity, justice and good governance.

Sarah Moghtader

Sarah Moghtader, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the committee in October, is also running for a new term on the board.

Moghtader, a former French teacher in Brookline schools, said plans to focus on building collaboration on the School Committee and highlight her experience as a long-time educator in Brookline and parent of three school-age children. She is planning to formally announce her campaign soon.

Natalia Linos

Pearlman, the committee’s chair, is not running because he is running for Select Board. And Natalia Linos, who was elected to a one-year term in 2023, said that she is undecided about whether she will run again.

Candidates interested in running for office must submit nomination papers to the Town Clerk’s office by March 12.

Town Moderator

Kate Poverman announced in December she would not be running for reelection, leaving the Town Moderator position open.

The moderator oversees sessions of Town Meeting, and appoints members to the town’s Advisory Committee.

Neil Wishinsky

Neil Wishinsky, a veteran of town government who has served previously on the Select Board, in Town Meeting and on the Advisory Committee, is the only candidate seeking the position so far.

In announcing his run, Wishinsky acknowledged that much of the moderator’s work is bound by a “strict legal framework,” but said he will “work to improve the quality, timeliness, and flow of information about Town Meeting” and develop a more transparent process for appointing Advisory Committee members.

Town Clerk

Ben Kaufman

The person charged with administering the election may also be up for reelection himself. Town Clerk Ben Kaufman, first elected in 2021, has hit the end of a three year term.

Kaufman did not respond to a question from Brookline.News about whether he will be running for reelection.

In addition to running elections, the clerk is charged with maintaining public records, registering voters, and acting as a Justice of the Peace.

Town Meeting

Every year, about one third of Town Meeting’s 255 members are up for reelection. Town Meeting, which serves as the town’s legislative body, approves Brookline’s budget and sets its bylaws. Its votes can influence everything from zoning to public health measures to creating new town departments.

This year, 92 Town Meeting members are up for reelection, according to a document on the town’s website.