In the world of diplomacy, Henry Kissinger once remarked, “execution dominates conception.” So, too, for the world of municipal governance. Nothing matters unless one’s big ideas get implemented. According to this criterion, Ruthanne Fuller shines as a mayoral candidate.
For sure, Ruthanne has many informed ideas about the issues facing the City of Newton. But what is so remarkable about Ruthanne is her capacity to get things done—the right way.
What’s the “right way”? First, the management of cities like Newton needs to be rooted in a deeply informed understanding of the long-term economic and financial challenges facing the community. From her past work as co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Group (appointed by the Mayor, the Chair of the Board of Alderman, and Chair of the School Committee) and continuing service as Alderman-at- Large, her mastery of the these issues is unmatched. Ruthanne is totally fluent in finance and economics.
Second, no City can prosper and feel “right” without citizen consensus. Ruthanne is the consummate consensus builder. This skill is of course innate, but it is reinforced by several amazing personal qualities: her ability to absorb aggression in difficult meetings, her tolerance for ambiguity when noodling through complicated problems, and a quiet sense of humor that allows her to keep everything in a calm perspective.
Third, there are “right” and “wrong“ ways of implementing policy initiatives and changes. The right way requires common sense. Check that: it requires uncommon common sense. Ruthanne’s uncommon common sense is expressed in her capacity to identify what issues to focus upon, when to move on them, and how to move on them. So, too, is knowing how to ask the right questions at the right time when the stakes are high and passions are running high.
It is both easy and common to evaluate political candidates on the basis of their espoused policies and platform. It is often more difficult to judge personal qualities that are essential to implementing these policies and platforms. This is especially true when a candidate is as modest as Ruthanne is. Ruthanne does not like to toot her own horn, so I will. I like to describe Ruthanne as a “submarine.” She does what all good subs do: she runs silent and she runs deep (in every sense of that word). But now, the SS Ruthanne has surfaced. Our job is to escort her into port.
Former Chair, Citizens Advisory Group