- City Councillor, 1996 to present
- Chair, Health and Environment Committee
- Chair, Cable TV, Telecommunications and Public Utilities Committee
- Past Chair, Traffic and Transportation Committee and Public Safety
- Co-Chair, Healthy Children Task Force 1990-present
- Vice Chair, National League of Cities Energy, Environment and
Natural Resources Committee
- Legislative Liaison, International Council of Local Environmental
- Cambridge School Committee 1988-1995
- Administrator, Agassiz Preschool 1985-1994
- Freelance journalist, Time, Life, Money and NPR 1975-1985
- Social worker and community planner, 1967-1974
- Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Master of Public
- Harvard Law School Intensive Negotiation Program January 1995
- Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Master of Social
- University of Rochester, B.A. English Literature 1967
Endorsements (to date):
- MA-PACE/NASW- the political action committee of the National
Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts chapter.
- Sierra Club, Massachusetts Chapter
- Smarter Energy Use
- Local Food and Gardening
- Better Aging
- Transportation Choices
- Children's Health
- Keeping you informed
Quality of Life:
This one of the most important issues to city residents. People want to
enjoy their homes and make their way around the city, feeling safe and
While on the council I have worked on ways to make the city quieter. Early
on I got an ordinance passed that allowed the police to tow vehicles
whose alarms were going off for more than 10 minutes. I can't help
noticing fewer leaf blowers in Cambridge. Two years ago after banning leaf
blowers failed, I led an effort to regulate and minimize the use of leaf
blowers in the city. I'm proud to say that we now have a quieter city,
with markedly few leaf blowers roaring.
People in Cambridge love that our city is a great place to walk. But they
want their sidewalks to be safer to walk upon. I have advocated for a
variety of improvements to the walking environment and recently won
support to ask the City Manager to boost the sidewalk improvement budget.
I haven't found anyone who likes to see rats in the city. Unfortunately
they seem more and more to be visible in our community. I support tight restrictions
on storage and disposal of trash. I also want to give the city the
tools to enforce keeping trash covered in dumpsters. I support a task
force make sure that all are working in concern to eliminate rats.
I support the new police commissioner who has advanced community
policing in his tenure here. He models behavior that shows that we
can only keep our city safe if we work in partnership with one another -
professionals with community members, schools with city leaders.
My goals for next term also include creating a community forum to
improve understanding between people of differing backgrounds. I want to
examine and improve policing practices to eliminate racial profiling and
collaborate with police to find a new way to address non-arrestable
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
For ten years, I was the Council's Transportation Committee Chair and
pressed for dozens of measures to make the city friendlier and safer for
walkers and bikers.
This year I pressed the State to make the soon-to-be-repaired BU Bridge
safer and nicer for walking and biking. The Charles River roads and paths
form a major thoroughfare for non-auto travelers.
Working with city staff and residents, I contributed to Cambridge being
recognized last year as the #1 Walking City in America, with better
pedestrian safeguards, such as countdown lights and traffic enforcement,
especially for stopping at crosswalks.
I have supported and continue to support visionary bike activists who
see a future that includes more bikers of all ages commuting, shopping,
and getting around town.
This year I will press for systematic funding for bicycle parking. We
need to put bike parking on the same priority level as car parking.
I was an early supporter and endorser of car sharing, especially Zipcar
when it first started up in the city.
In terms of transit I helped to get bus schedules
posted at bus stops. I could never understand how anyone could wait for a
bus without knowing if it would arrive in the next hour, the next day?
Schedules at bus stops have made a difference. I support expansion of mass
transit, including the Urban Ring. There's no reason to go to crowded
downtown for every cross-town trip. Furthermore, I think there should be
an annual T riders' meeting convened in Cambridge to get
feedback on how services could be better here.
Government and Elections:
I would like to see more people participate in elections, especially
municipal elections. My simple idea to accomplish that: expand the
voting hours by allowing absentee ballots to be used by anyone who
might prefer to vote before election day, either in person at 51 Inman St.
or by mail-in absentee ballot. Why do people have to go to their own
precinct to vote? Why not vote where and when it is convenient
once the ballots are available. I support lowering the voter age to
16 when high school students can learn to vote and get in the
habit of voting before they go away to school, work, the military. Sixteen
year olds are more invested in their community than 18-year olds who are
looking forward to the next step. I support residents being able to
vote in municipal elections whether citizens or not. Citizenship
processes take so long. Many immigrants contribute taxes and their
commitment to this community. I'd like to permit them to vote in municipal
It is likely that we as a community will set goals for hiring a new
city manager in the coming term. It will be important to envision a city
future with continued fiscal success, excellent services and the further
participation of citizens in achieving those goals.
Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
One example of recent zoning matters: Alexandria Properties, a national
real estate company that specializes in biotech properties, proposed
zoning changes for 1.8 million sq. ft. of property near Binney St. in East
Cambridge in order to build biotech more densely. The City Council adopted
an amended version of Alexandria's proposal. It has many community
benefits, chief among them urban design elements to enliven that area on
nights and weekends. Though an earlier version had more housing, there
will be a new community building, a park, requirements for additional
ground floor retail, plus clear pathways to the Kendall T station,
elements I strongly backed.
Human Services Programs:
I'm especially working to focus attention on aging in our community, to
build and expand on our rich resources and to assure an excellent quality
of life as people get older.
Working with government and local leaders, I led the city to establish
a coordinating council on aging.
I'm proud to offer my newly published guide, Henrietta's Savings
for Seniors, a listing of 30 great bargains for older people.
I'm working with city officials and others to publish a practical plan
for aging in Cambridge which commits to a range of housing options from
independence to serious assistance.
Transportation choices are critical to seniors who may need alternatives
to driving. I will be advocating for more and better transportation
options: cabs, buses, walking, and the T.
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
As a result of a presentation at the Healthy Children Task Force, I
learned that our playgrounds could be better for kids, more appropriate to
their developmental needs and I wanted to get the City to include those
kinds of criteria in the planning that it does for new and re-furbished
playgrounds. The City Manager has appointed a group to develop such
criteria so that future playground effort are even better than the one we
have now. The new Cambridge Common playground is an example of this
research, with more diverse and physically engaging play equipment. Most
of our city children don't have large backyards and depend on public parks
to grow strong and healthy.
The recently completed Cambridge War Memorial Recreation Center is one
of our newest Green Buildings with beautifully refurbished pool, gym and
locker room. The new West Cambridge Youth and Community Center will open
September 25th and provide activities for pre-teens, teens, families and
In addition to protecting the open spaces that we have, it is important
to think of new, creative places to "green up" populated areas.
Street trees are a great way to do this. The City Council has set a goal
of planting 500 new street trees from July 2009 to July 2010. I held a
hearing about the planting, care and maintenance of street trees, which
about 25 people attended, many supporting this goal. In addition to
planting, support was heard for City Arborist David Lefcourt's goal of
mapping all our street trees, noting open spots for planting trees, and
measuring the Cambridge tree canopy.
Energy & Environment:
As the Chair of the Heath and Environment committee, I have led the
council on energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction and local
Don't underestimate the power of energy efficiency to do what we need
to do to reduce carbon. Energy efficiency has been shown by McKinsey and
others to be the very least expensive method for carbon reduction, saving
money rather than costing us. And there is a lot of energy wasted now in
drafty buildings, for example. The benefit of insulation and weather
sealing is great in both ho and cold weather. Unlike solar and wind,
efficiency is not an intermittent source, requiring not just transmission
My council committee examined the prospects for wind in Cambridge and
we just aren't windy enough for the current turbines to be efficient.
Solar is dropping in price; that is hopeful.
Reducing waste can help also. If we had fewer trucks on the road
carrying our waste, we would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Cambridge has a green fleet policy that I pressed for that requires that
before the purchase of any vehicle 3 estimates must be presented that show
the carbon profile of the vehicle and the vehicle with the lowest carbon
profile is that one that must be chosen. Many department heads now drive
hybrid vehicles. In addition the city manager has clamped down on idling,
and limited the use of vehicles to be taken home.
I'm championing local, sustainable food. I pressed for more community
gardens. At least forty more gardens were added this year. More are
needed. We are so fortunate to have CitySprouts, a non-profit school
gardening program, in our city. As a councillor, I support all that
organization is doing to give kids a "taste" of what it means to
grow their own food and also to care for the natural environment.
As the co-chair of the Healthy Children Task Force for the past 20 years,
I'm proud of how our group has made a difference in children's lives. We
collaborate with the schools, the city, the public health department and
the community to focus on kids.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Surgeon
General recognized Cambridge two years ago for our successful efforts to
increase physical activity and improve school food.
As a result of my initiative, the city will consider a parks and
playground plan to make our already-great playgrounds better suited to
children's developmental needs: children don't just play in playgrounds,
they learn social skills, physical skills and engage with nature. The new
Cambridge Common playground is a huge success.
The amount of housing in the city still falls far short of the number of
jobs that are located here. For those who are concerned about congestion,
it is important to co-locate housing with jobs.
From the standpoint of affordable housing, many families are in need of
housing in order to stay in the school system. This type of housing should
receive special attention. Also needed is more "granny" housing,
units for older people who want to live near family.
As for where the housing goes, that's a more subtle question. Certainly
affordable housing should be all around the city if possible.
The three or four projects that I know are on the drawing boards now
need a careful look to assure that if they are built they do not overwhelm
surrounding neighborhoods. Zoning should always be re- examined to assure
that it matches the context and preserves neighborhoods.
Arts and Public Celebrations:
I am the City Council representative to the Cambridge Science Festival,
a wonderful weeklong public celebration of all that Cambridge does as a
science city. The festival includes Cambridge students and families and
harnesses the creativity of our universities, biotech and other science
This year I am also very proud to have helped launch our first ever
Urban Ag Fair in Harvard Square, Sunday, September 20th. The Ag Fair will
celebrate local gardeners, cooks, bee-keepers and much more. I hope that
this is something that can continue on and grow in the future. It was a
I served as Vice Chair of the first ever University Relations Committee
six years ago. The work of that committee resulted in the City Manager
negotiating a landmark agreement with MIT that protects the
taxpayers, MIT owns 10% of all Cambridge taxable property and they are our
top taxpayer. They have promised to limit any sale of that property so
that it doesn't create a dramatic blip in tax rates. We obviously need to
continually monitor what the universities build here as they are our
I'm for more civic participation. I would like to see the City engage in citywide
goal setting of a robust nature. What the council has done to date to
include residents in goal setting I think has had a remarkably good result
as far as the goals that have been articulated. It has also helped to
align the city administration with the policy goals of the City Council.
Yet, I feel we could do more to include the public in the process in a
Cambridge Public Schools:
As co-chair of the Healthy Children Task Force, we are turning our
attention to behavioral and mental health issues that have an impact on
school success. In particular, the group will learn more about ADHD. This
widely diagnosed condition that inhibits the ability of children, often
boys, to keep focused in class. We are applying for a research grant to
determine if carefully monitored medication can make a difference.
It was my pleasure to attend the first greeting of the Cambridge
Schools faculty by the new superintendent Dr. Jeffery Young. Now it is
time for the School Committee and the community to wholeheartedly back him
for excellence in education and in the service of the students.
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, the city's one public high school
was recently recognized in the top twenty of all high schools in the
Candidate's 2007 responses