David Micley on family, serving community and a second run for Newton City Council

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Newton Beacon is a nonpartisan news organization interviewing all candidates running in the upcoming Newton municipal elections for this candidate profile series. Profile pieces are not endorsements.

David Micley has spent years finding purpose in places like Brookline and Israel, and now he’s raising a family in his hometown of Newton and one of three candidates running for a seat representing Ward 2 on the Newton City Council.

“I live in the house that used to be my grandparents’ house, the house that my dad grew up in,” Micley
said, sitting down for lunch at Clover Food Lab . “I had this experience growing up living down the street
from my grandmother, Dena Micley. She was a big part of my childhood. And now my parents get to do
that with my three children, Lily, Zoe, and Eitan.”

That house—the “Micley house”—is now home to the fifth generation of Micleys, David’s kids.

Venturing out

Micley started his career as a community organizer for a nonprofit in Dorchester.

“It’s kind of funny because I was knocking on doors in the same exact neighborhood that my future mother-in-law was living,” Micley recalled. “I was knocking on doors, distributing a survey to residents about how the neighborhood could improve. I’ve always been very into using surveys as a way to gather input and having that guide decision making.”

Micley later worked at Prozdor, the high school at the Hebrew College in Newton, as a teacher and recruiter.

Micley met Molly Chadis, the young woman who would be wife, when they were both working as
fundraisers for Combined Jewish Philanthropies—an organization that raises funds from the Jewish
community and gives grants to important causes across the Greater Boston area—and both were from Newton but had never met.

He spent some time in Israel, too, running a program that brought students from the United States to Israel to learn about entrepreneurship. Micley loved Israel so much, he and his wife got married there.

“Living in Tel Aviv, it was a really exciting life,” Micley said. “I learned a lot about entrepreneurship. Israel’s an incredible place.”

Micley returned to the Boston area in 2017 to go get his MBA at MIT and then went to work at Bridgewater Associates in Connecticut, where he spent a year working as a client advisor to pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, he and his wife moved back to Newton to be with family.

“And I’ve stayed here since,” Micley said.

These days, Micley works in business development at a digital asset start-up.

Learning local politics

While working at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Micley lived in Brookline, where he was elected a member of Town Meeting.

“That’s when I got active in local politics,” Micley said. He was mentored in local politics by fellow Town Meeting member and former Assistant Transportation Secretary Chris Dempsey and State Rep. Tommy Vitolo. And being a Town Meeting Member meant making direct, big decisions for the Brookline community.

“With 240 members, it’s a lot of debate.,” Micley said. “I love that, though. To me, the more local representation there is, the better.”

That drive to serve and give his community representation has Micley seeking a seat on the Newton City Council representing Ward 2.

Back home, ready to serve

Micley moved back to Newton and ran for a seat on the City Council two years ago, when Jake Auchincloss left the City Council for a congressional seat. Micley fell short in that election, but when Ward 2 City Councilor Emily Norton announced she wasn’t running again, Micley decided to give it another try.

“Honestly, I didn’t want to run against Emily, because she’s really good at constituent services, and that’s something I’m committed to.”

After his previous run for City Council, Micley was appointed to the city’s OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) Board aimed at finding ways to pay the city’s massive employee retirement costs, and that’s something he says the city needs to focus on.

“It’s a big problem, and it’s going to be a big pressure on our budget over the coming decades,” Micley said.

Micley wants to focus on repairing the city’s roads and added that he’d like to do what he can from the City Council to support the city’s schools, with his oldest daughter set to start kindergarten a year from now at Mason-Rice Elementary School.

“The City Council has very limited hard authority over the schools, but I’ll at least be a voice of support to ensure that we have stronger schools,” Micley said. “That to me is a priority on a personal level and also on a community level.”

David Micley, shown here with his wife, Molly, and their kids, Lily, Zoey and Eitan, is running for a seat on the Newton City Council representing Ward 2. Courtesy Photo

One issue dominating City Hall right now is the proposal to rezone Newton’s village centers to allow bigger buildings and more housing to meet the state’s new MBTA Communities Act requirements. That proposal is likely to go to the City Council for a vote this fall.

Micley said he thinks the city should comply with state law and wants to see more types of housing built in the city to allow more people of different economic backgrounds and life stages to live in Newton. But he’s concerned the payoff isn’t going to be what advocates are predicting.

“I definitely don’t think it’s going to be a silver bullet to solve the issue of affordability, or to suddenly get people to use the T,” Micley said. “People don’t use the T, not because they don’t live near it but because it’s terrible. And this housing is not going to make the T good all of a sudden.”

Micley would also like to see the city zone for just enough units to comply with the MBTA Communities Act, but not more than that, and take into account feedback from residents about building heights and density.

Whoever wins the Ward 2 seat likely won’t have a vote on the rezoning, since that has a deadline of the end of this year, but next year’s City Council will have to deal with the resulting developments in the village centers.

Meanwhile, Micley is enjoying his run for office and meeting with residents throughout Ward 2.

“What really excited me about this particular role is the chance to really get to know what people care about, what’s on their minds, to be connected to the community that I’m trying to represent,” Micley said. “I have to represent what residents want, effectively. That to me is the role.”

Newton’s preliminary elections for Wards 2 and 6 will be held on Sept. 12. In each race, the two candidates with the most votes will proceed to the general election set for Nov. 7.