Marjorie Decker

Marjorie Decker
2005 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
42 Linnaean St. #3
Cambridge MA 02138

Contact information:

Send contributions to:
Friends of Marjorie Decker Committee
P.O. Box 390431
Cambridge, MA 02139

Marjorie is seeking her 4th term on the Cambridge City Council. For the past two years she has been honored to also serve as the Vice Mayor of the City. Marjorie is a Cambridge native. She grew up in public housing; her father is a disabled Vietnam Veteran, her mother has worked with the elderly and homeless in Cambridge. It is those roots that have driven Marjorie to public service. Her true goal is to improve the lives of all the citizens of Cambridge.

Top Priorities:
1 Keeping Cambridge Livable and Affordable
2. Fighting for Jobs and Fair Wages
3. Investing in our Youth

Here are jut a few examples of how Marjorie Decker is working for Cambridge as a City Council member and the city's Vice Mayor:

1. Marjorie has filed a home rule petition that would create a predictable and fair property tax. The city's recent property tax increases were the result of a state mandate that Cambridge tax its property at 100 percent value. Although Cambridge still has the lowest residential property tax rate, the sky-rocketing real estate market is hitting some residents deep in their pockets. When it comes to their assessments, Marjorie's proposal would reexamine the methods used for assessment and create a fair and predicable tax policy.

Because it is so important to keep Cambridge diverse and provide opportunities for individuals in various income brackets, Marjorie took the lead in negotiating on behalf of Riverside residents with Harvard University over the Mahoney site. In the end, the University agreed to deed to the city riverfront open space close to a $1 million in landscaping and design and the development of as many as 60 new affordable housing units. Marjorie continues to be involved with the oversight of this implementation.

2. Marjorie has been recognized and honored by the Greater Boston Labor Council for outstanding work on behalf of workers and immigrants. She was instrumental in the Living Wage campaign including leveraging Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to help raise awareness of the issue. Marjorie also fought on behalf of Genzyme's cleaning staff to ensure that the hard-working people of Cambridge have money to put food on the table. Individuals who work hard at full-time jobs should be paid enough so that they do not need to choose between food and medicine.

3. Marjorie is committed to helping the city's youth. Last year, she helped local students get inside the Democratic National Convention and meet important and influential people. She organized and ran a town meeting for 200 Cambridge youth who were able to work with Hollywood writers and professionals from the Kennedy School of Government to prepare for their respective workshops and youth town meeting. She was able to solicit the support of several young celebrities and secure the partnerships of MTV and Comcast.

Her work with the United Nations in New York has also enabled her to get local students involved in world affairs, better preparing them to take the lead in local government. This past spring she organized a United Nations visit for 30 CRLS and invited Newsweek Editor and McLaughlin Group commentator Eleanor Clift to meet with CRLS girls to discuss her new book on the Women's suffragist movement. Marjorie teamed up with HBO and Comcast to show the Iron Jawed Angels and purchase a copy of the book for each student. Marjorie is committed to inspiring and nurturing more women to run for office.

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
From the arts to housing to the environment, Marjorie is working tirelessly to make sure life in Cambridge is the best it can be. Marjorie knows the importance of fighting for the "little guy" whether it's as an advocate for cleaning company workers who were being unfairly treated at Genzyme or Harvard employees who were unable to earn a living wage. She has never strayed from her working-class roots.

As Vice-Mayor, Marjorie is focused on public safety. In addition to her work with Cambridge officials, she has been a delegate to the Mayors for Peace, working on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament with municipal officials around the world.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Even before gasoline topped $3 per gallon this year, Marjorie was already focused on ways to reduce Cambridge's dependence on oil. She signed a City Council resolution asking the City Manager to consider purchasing alternative-fuel vehicles for use in non-public safety situations. Marjorie has supported a para-transit shuttle system for the City so residents who work in Cambridge would have an alternative way to get to and from work. The shuttle would reduce traffic and parking problems while also reducing auto emissions.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
Clearly people are concerned about property taxes this year. Marjorie has been hard at work meeting with residents, realtors and economists to figure out the best way for Cambridge to move forward.

Marjorie outlined her plan in a home rule petition establishing a fair and predictable tax system for our residents. It calls for establishing a base rate at which property owners are taxed then locking in the assessment value. This assessment would not change until that property is sold. Then a new assessment would be made. Marjorie's petition also calls on the City to explore capping the percentage of tax increases for its residents. This is a common sense tax system that protects property owners and insures the City gets the revenue it needs while complying with state regulations.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
Cambridge's open space is a precious commodity that is an important part of the fabric of our city. Marjorie has spearheaded the effort to acquire open space and is currently authoring legislation that would formalize a commission to oversee open space and park development.

Marjorie was the lead negotiator in the Riverside neighborhood negotiation with Harvard University over the Mahoney's nursery site on Memorial Drive. Thanks to Marjorie's hard work, the City secured a deed for open space on the riverfront complete with nearly a million dollars of available money for landscape and design. Her leadership negotiating this zoning agreement resulted in open space, less FAR and over 60 units of affordable housing. It is one of the accomplishments Marjorie is most proud of in her 6 years on the Council.

Human Services Programs:
Providing the right human service programs reflects the respect we have for our neighbors, old and young. Marjorie has made it a priority to support and create opportunities for Cambridge residents.

Marjorie's commitment to youth is reflected in her support for public education and open space. But it goes further than that. Through her collaboration with the United Nations, Marjorie has secured opportunities for local students to take part in field trips and meetings with representatives at the UN. During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Marjorie facilitated meetings between local students and political leaders, campaign workers and journalists.

As the daughter of a disabled Vietnam veteran and the chair of the City's Veterans' Committee, Marjorie has fought tirelessly for veterans and their families. She worked with the VA hospital to improve and expand health services, she stopped Governor Romney from cutting assistance to spouses of veterans and she is working with Veterans for Peace voicing opposition to the war in Iraq. Marjorie honors those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Iraqi war by reading the names of fallen American soldiers at weekly Council meetings.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Cambridge's open space is a precious commodity that is an important part of the fabric of our city. Marjorie has spearheaded the effort to acquire open space and is currently authoring legislation that would formalize a commission to oversee open space and park development.
(Please also see Land Use, Planning, Economic Development answer)

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
We all want to grow up and live in a safe and healthy environment. Environmental concerns necessitate a long-term approach and that's why Marjorie is constantly identifying and proposing real-life solutions to today's environmental concerns. In 2002, Marjorie signed a City Council resolution asking the City Manager to consider purchasing alternative-fuel vehicles for use in non-public safety situations. Later that year, she supported the City Council in adopting the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) resolution, setting a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in the next eight years. In 2004, she held a Health and Environment Committee hearing to explore how the City can use solar energy. This is truly a long-term approach to giving our federal government greater flexibility in foreign policy.

And, because nearly half of Cambridge's working age residents work in the City, Marjorie has supported a para-transit shuttle system that would reduce residents' reliance on their own cars to get to and from work every day. This will reduce traffic throughout Cambridge and further reduce air pollution.

Over the last 6 years, Marjorie worked to create stronger protections from the pollution of W. R. Grace asbestos filled land. She chaired a North Cambridge neighborhood-based hearing, which prevented WR Grace from bypassing the "tent and vent" regulations in the City ordinance. More recently, she has been negotiating with residents and Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that WR Grace land is bound by secure protections when DEP has finished its oversight. Marjorie also filed the first in the nation asbestos notification legislation to regulate how companies with asbestos contaminated land notify residents within 200 yards of any soil disturbance.

Supporting affordable housing is a critical part of Marjorie's work on the City Council and as Vice-Mayor. Marjorie grew up in public housing and she understands the importance of providing affordable alternatives for families of varying socio-economic backgrounds. Only then can Cambridge maintain its diversity and culture. She also realizes success means balancing the interests of multiple stakeholders to ensure Cambridge remains an environmentally friendly and affordable community with open space and economic development.

In her 6 years on the Council, Marjorie has worked on many Council policies so that affordable housing opportunities are available to low income families and seniors. Among those was an order that asked the Cambridge Housing Authority and Community Development Department to help individuals affected by Section 8 budget cuts find suitable housing.

She has also been working to create a policy that provides more Limited Equity Coop opportunities for Cambridge residents. In addition, she negotiated the creation of new affordable housing units and helped develop zoning laws that changed industrial land into residential property.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge has a long history of supporting creative arts and is a better city because of the contributions of places like Club Passim, the Brattle Theater and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center. Recently when funding cuts threatened local programs Marjorie was there to lend her support.

Among her achievements:

  • Restoring funding to host a "Children of Iraq" art exhibit, as well as summer youth programs at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
  • Working closely with the owners of Club Passim and the community to raise funds for a special concert in honor of the 47th anniversary of the Club Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center. Also working to secure a permanent and affordable site for the club
  • Helping the owners and the board of the Brattle Theater raise necessary funding and resources to insure its long-term viability
  • Working to permanently bring the Boston Music Awards and NEMO to Cambridge
  • Advocating for a permanent Arts Walk on the Cambridge Common so local artisans can showcase their work and have a market to sell their crafts.

University Relations:
Marjorie's most important work with respect to University relations was negotiating the housing and land deal with Harvard. Marjorie's efforts resulted in a land grant back to the City to build affordable housing for up to 60 families. She also made sure there was money available from the University to properly landscape and design this new project.

It is important to note that Marjorie's efforts to push the living wage campaign at Harvard led to better compensation for employees at the University.

Civic Participation:
As a City Council member and Vice-Mayor, Marjorie's work is committed to civic participation. But, it is important here to note that aside from her efforts to create a better environment for her neighbors and listen to the needs of her constituents, Marjorie's focus on the arts is one true measure of her participation in projects that make Cambridge unique.

A brief reminder of some of Marjorie's efforts:

  • Restoring critical funds to Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center.
  • Working with Club Passim board to raise resources for 41st anniversary by bringing together leaders from the community, university, business and education to develop new partnerships.
  • Hosting luncheon with Brattle Theater board, community and business leaders to brainstorm long-term support for the Brattle and ways to develop new partnerships.
  • Helping secure new funding for Nora and Underground Theaters to open a new theater in Central Square. Marjorie brought Matt Damon in as guest of honor at this year's fundraiser.

With regard to Marjorie's work with young people and civic participation, her leadership training and development opportunities for young people is also noteworthy. Her effort to involve youth in the political process as well as having meaningful opportunities to meet with decision makers is described in more detail below.

Cambridge Public Schools:
Marjorie is a product of the Cambridge Public Schools. Her passion for the public schools was demonstrated early on in her career Marjorie taught first grade with Teach for America and later became the Director of the Cambridge Youth Center. Her commitment to education is clear: Find ways to reach today's young people, engage them in ideas that are related to where they live and their quality of life and introduce students to opinion makers and political leaders who shape their world.

In this regard, Marjorie led a delegation of 30 CRLS students to the United Nations for educational briefings and invited Newsweek commentator Eleanor Clift to meet with 400 CRLS girls to discuss the women's voting rights movement. Additionally, she organized a town meeting for 200 Cambridge teens during the Democratic National Committee. That program aired on MTV. Because of her involvement with young people, this year's CRLS Senior Class President, Sumbul Sadiqqi, is quoted as saying: “Marjorie is a unique and supportive individual who has the ability to connect with people of all backgrounds and especially young people. I have watched Marjorie work for the betterment of Cambridge-she is a good role model and a generous mentor.”

Page last updated June 16, 2009 Cambridge Candidates