Newton graduated from Osseo High School in Osseo, then earned his Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Maryland in 1973. He received his Master of Arts in international relations in 1975 from Boston University, and studied at the doctoral level at the Catholic University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, and at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
He is also a former grocery store owner and career soldier. Newton served in the United States Army from 1955–1978, retiring as a sergeant major, after serving in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and spending seven years in the Middle East. He taught government at the University of Maryland from 1975–1976, and was a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota from 1979-1980.
He owned and managed the Blaine Dairy Store and Foley boulevard Dairy Store from 1980-2000.
Newton was first elected to the house in 2008, succeeding six-term Representative Kathy Tingelstad, who did not seek re-election. He was unseated by Republican Branden Petersen in the 2010 general election.
He ran again and was elected in 2012. He was the Minnesota School Board Association 2009 Legislator of the Year.
Through the years, he chaired the Anoka Human Rights Council, served on the Anoka County Affordable Housing Coalition, the Coon Rapids Economic Development Authority, the Crystal Housing and Re-Development Authority, the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee of the National League of Cities (1995–2000), the Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board (1996–2000), the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities, and the Northstar Corridor Development Authority.
He also initiated the Highway 10 Corridor Coalition. Newton is best known locally for virtually single-handedly creating the rail crossing quiet zones which set a national standard for enhanced rail crossing safety while silencing train whistles. He also wrote the local school district anti-bullying policy which became the base for the State of Minnesota anti-bullying policy.
A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), he represents District 37A, which includes portions of Anoka County in the northern Twin Cities metropolitan area. During his first term, he was a member of the House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight Committee, and also served on the Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee for the Veterans Affairs Division, of which he was vice chair, and on the Finance subcommittees for the K-12 Education Finance Division and the Transportation Finance and Policy Division. Active in his local community and government, Newton was a member of the Coon Rapids City Council from 1994–2000, and served as acting mayor from 1999-2000.
He was a member of the Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 School Board from 2000-2008.
Newton was a founding board member of Free 2 Be, Incorporated. and is a member of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce and the Coon Rapids Rotary. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and is a member of the Coon Rapids American Legion.
Married Rita Newton; 6 children.