Hello there, Newton! My name is Eli Katzoff and I’m running for mayor of this fantastic city. Let me tell you a bit about myself!
I love this city. I was raised right here from age 3. Throughout my childhood, my family were active members of the Newton Center Minyan, a self-run, lay-led Jewish community where I saw first-hand how amazing things get done when people come together to work cooperatively. The adults there modeled an approach to life that said: if you want things to happen, make them happen!
An approach that, luckily for me, would continue through my education at the innovative Sudbury Valley School. Sudbury Valley is a passionately democratic school where decisions are taken by school-wide “town meetings” that determine everything from hiring staff to who takes out the trash, and where students are exhorted to take responsibility for their own lives. Sudbury Valley taught me the importance of cooperative governing, consensus-building, respecting the rights of others, always listening to others’ points of view. Democracy in action, every day.
This was followed by a year on a kibbutz in Israel where I saw cooperative housing arrangements that can serve as the basis for creative solutions for affordable housing needed in our own city today.
I later journeyed to Hollywood as a new college graduate (Savannah College of Art and Design) to work in film production. I was soon diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and while I was fortunate to receive excellent medical care and make a full recovery, during treatment my health insurer blatantly attempted to drop me from coverage by engaging in egregious practices that became the subject of Congressional hearings and led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This experience opened my eyes to the critical need for health insurance for all, without exclusions. I remain deeply concerned about what decimating the ACA will do to so many Americans.
I returned to Newton and built a media production company specializing in photography and videos for individuals, families, camps, nonprofits and businesses. The work requires managing large groups of people and orchestrating many complex moving parts. Each project is unique and demands creative solutions to tricky challenges. This requires quick thinking, lots of coordination, working with vendors, contractors, and clients, and attending to all the administrative details of any small business.
In all my activities, I continue to be guided by a strong sense of ethics and morals instilled in me through my family and spiritual life, my schooling, and my community experiences. As a part-time teacher at area Hebrew schools, I continue to pass on these values to the next generation.
I believe that through active listening, and by making a commitment to consensus-building, personal responsibility, and concern for each other and the wider community, we can all create lives of value and meaning.
As mayor, I promise to work hard for you and for the well-being of our wonderful city.