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Chief's supporters protest as Newton Mayor Setti Warren launches reelection bid

Posted by Leslie Anderson  September 24, 2012 09:22 PM

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren officially launched his campaign for reelection Monday night with a fund-raiser that attracted both political bigwigs and protestors.

Warren, who is seeking a second term in office, urged his supporters to help him win reelection so that he could finish the work he started, from fixing the city’s aging infrastructure to ensuring that the police and fire departments have the resources they need.

“We all have to step up to move our community forward,” Warren said.

The fund-raiser, at the hilltop home of a supporter in Chestnut Hill, drew Governor Deval Patrick and former governor Michael Dukakis, who is a family friend, as well as State Treasurer Steve Grossman. They all spoke on Warren’s behalf and said he was worthy of a second term.

Outside, about 15 backers of the recently-removed Newton police chief, Matthew Cummings, held signs and yelled, “Support the chief not the mayor.”

Warren placed Cummings on administrative leave in late August, the same day as word leaked that the mayor was seeking reelection. Warren started proceedings to fire Cummings after a city-commissioned report indicated that the chief acted and made comments that could be perceived as offensive to female employees, including his former secretary. Cummings has disputed that he made derogatory comments and his dismissal hearing is scheduled for October.

Carl McQuade, who attended the protest with his brother, said the mayor treated Cummings, a long-time city employee, unfairly.

“I had to make a decision that was best for the department and the city,” Warren said, in an interview after the fund-raiser, about Cummings and the protest.

Warren said his campaign will focus on telling voters what he has done for the city of Newton, such as getting the city on better financial footing and on the path to repairing streets and buildings.

Until last month, Warren had been vague about his future political plans.

Warren drew criticism last year from some Newton residents for pursuing higher office without finishing his first term as mayor. He dropped his bid to challenge Republican US Senator Scott Brown in September 2011 after he was financially outgunned by Elizabeth Warren.

But his aborted bid for US Senate and several high-profile speaking engagements earlier this year on behalf of President Obama’s reelection stirred rumors that Warren was still interested in another job.

Warren said if reelected he would serve his entire four-year term.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com.

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