Newton voters face a tough choice on Nov. 7 between two admirable candidates for mayor. As a recognized expert in economic development, I know that Newton needs a knowledgeable, committed, collaborative leader to secure ongoing economic opportunities for Newton and the people who call it home. I have paid close attention to Newton’s city council for years, and I can tell you: Ruthanne Fuller is that leader.

Ruthanne and I have spoken many times over the years about what economic development means to our city. I know she really understands how important it is to both support existing local businesses and attract more businesses to Newton. Supporting local businesses increases the quality of life for everyone who lives here, not only because of the direct contributions local businesses make to our quality of life, but also because people who can work, live, and shop in Newton don’t need to spend as much time in their cars, which enhances their lives and reduces through traffic on our roads for all of us.

Attracting and retaining new offices, labs, and spaces to support entrepreneurial businesses improves Newton in additional ways. By encouraging business growth here, we increase job opportunities for Newton residents across the socioeconomic spectrum. A strategic approach to economic development also strengthens the city’s tax base, which lessens the load on residential taxpayers and allows the city to be financially sustainable and to invest in our schools, public safety, senior services, and infrastructure.

Ruthanne also gets that addressing the shortage of affordable housing here in Newton is more than a moral imperative: it is also inextricably intertwined with economic development. Critically, she understands that housing affordability and economic development are regional issues that require us to band together with our neighbors in Brookline, Watertown, Waltham, Wellesley, Needham and Dedham to find joint solutions that complement the work we are each doing as individual municipalities.

It is not enough simply to know what economic development can do for our city; Newton’s next mayor must also have the skills and experience to translate that perspective into concrete plans. I trust Ruthanne to guide Newton’s economic development wisely and effectively, and I ask you to join me in voting for her so she can do just that.

-Chris Steele