Jonathan Janik

Jonathan Janik
2007 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
53 Lee Street
Cambridge MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-515-6311

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Send checks to:
Committee to Elect Jonathan Janik
c/o Amy Stice, Treasurer
1433 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Cambridge resident Jonathan Janik is a thoughtful individual who is passionate about local politics. Through his experience as a communications director to a Massachusetts state senator and as a former producer on the news program "The David Brudnoy Show", Jonathan has developed impressive political credentials.

Jonathan was born and raised in a blue-collar household in America's "snow capital" Buffalo, NY. The youngest of four children, Jonathan grew up with role models who taught him the importance of hard work, advised him on life, and instilled in him an appreciation for education and higher learning. Through their experiences and life's work, Jonathan's family has been a driving force and inspiration in his life. Jonathan's grandfathers were a WWII vet and a steel factory laborer. Jonathan's mother grew up in public housing and now works at a university. His father owns a small business with Jonathan's brother. One of Jonathan's sisters performs HIV/AIDS research, while the other serves on the conservation board in her town. Jonathan's brother-in-law is an engineer and sister-in-law a substance abuse social worker. Collectively, all of their experiences have helped to define Jonathan's views and have helped to shape his outlook on public policy.

Jonathan's family also played a significant role in his choice for higher learning. Jonathan attended a small state college just ninety minutes from his hometown and with encouragement from his family studied communications. He excelled in his studies and received the Arthur R. Maytum Scholarship after having been nominated by his professors. After graduation, Jonathan explored different career options but felt the pull of the east coast, initially moving to Boston before settling in Cambridge. Soon after, Jonathan decided to make Cambridge his home because he felt the city's sense of community, cultural enrichment, and unwavering acceptance of people from varied backgrounds were important qualities he wanted in a place he was going to call home.

Since moving to Cambridge, Jonathan has been an active member of the community and has taken great pride in his civic involvement. It is through this involvement that Jonathan has shaped his views on what he thinks are important issues for his community. Knowing that he wanted to become more involved in Massachusetts politics, Jonathan took a position as a communications director on Beacon Hill.

In his role as communications director, Jonathan has performed significant constituent affairs work; facilitating daycare vouchers for single moms, mediating problems between drivers and the registry of motor vehicles, and resolving conflicts between consumers and corporate entities. Also, Jonathan has played a role advocating policy and conducting legislative research on a range of issues including government accountability, park protection, drunk driving reform, and clean energy. Jonathan has also managed public outreach programs on stem cell research, global warming, and environmental protection.

Prior to his role on Beacon Hill, Jonathan had the honor of working with one of WBZ radio's preeminent broadcasters, David Brudnoy. As an onsite producer for Mr. Brudnoy's show, Jonathan honed his thinking and perspective to understand conflicting sides of an issue. This ability sets Jonathan apart, as he reserves judgment in people and ideas until knowing all of the facts. Jonathan is a truly open to new concepts and opinions.

Currently, Jonathan lives in mid-Cambridge and continues his civic activity. He is excited to pursue his campaign for Cambridge City Council for the opportunity to represent his adopted home and the city's constituents.

Top Priorities:
The top three priorities facing Cambridge are public safety, education, and fiscal transparency and accountability.

Public Safety:
There is a recent influx in crime and we need to provide better attention on the issues and causes that make crime more frequent. Among the reasons for the upsurge in violence are turf warfare, well-timed criminal operations, and lack of family structure and community support. Gangs provide young people with support, community and income. Gangs also provide a culture and network that fosters a continuous recruitment from young to old. Consequently, gangs contain offenders both young and old.

Cambridge can do more to offer the support, community, and employment opportunities for those who consider gang culture as their only option. We need to intercept young people before they choose this route and we need to identify measures that bring people back from a life of crime. There is much more that can be done to break the cycle of violence that threatens our neighborhoods and quality of life.

As city councilor, I will collaborate to engage young people, to encourage their involvement in a community outside of gang culture and to provide opportunities for educational and career development. Also, I will collaborate with public safety officials to vary police officer schedules and shift-changes, including walking-biking beats. In addition, I support an increase of community policing and the hiring of more police officers. More officers on the streets will provide greater safety and the better ability to discourage and apprehend offenders.

Cambridge has come a long way on public education. No longer does it face the risk of losing its accreditation. In fact, several gains have been made in our schools and we owe a lot of that credit to the superintendent for those improvements. Enrollment is up and confidence in our school administration is returning.

I believe education is at the core of many of the issues facing Cambridge and I believe we need a positive, collaborative approach with the school committee, superintendent, city manager & on the city council to continue to bring improvement to our schools.

As city councilor, I will support a contract extension for the superintendent and I will urge the school committee to renew his. I will support the superintendent, his plan, and ask tough but constructive questions that help work toward solutions. Also, we need to provide the appropriate level of funding and resources to our students and teachers, and build off of our relationships with local universities to increase opportunities for internships and outside-of-the-classroom learning experiences. Finally, I will promote the school district's achievements and work to motivate young people to volunteer in their community and in public service.

Fiscal Transparency and Accountability:
There has been much to do about the lack of disclosure, transparency, and accountability in our elected government. It's striking that in a city like Cambridge openness and good government sometimes comes only after significant public outcry.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I'm reluctant to accuse any elected official of misdeeds until all of the evidence has been made public. I want to believe in the virtuousness of those who choose to go into public service. But, part of the job as an elected official is accountability for the reasons that we all know - sometimes officials compromise their better judgment not for the benefit of those who elect them. Consequently, when the image or appearance of wrongdoing happens, it needs to be answered swiftly and concretely, otherwise, the negative image of misconduct breeds into a significant distraction.

I believe it's time for new ideas, and fresh perspective in our city council, perspectives that value transparency and accountability. I believe we need to address the issues of incumbency on the city council and what occurs after repeated reelection of the same folks after decades. It's time for new blood.

Additional platform priorities:
I am running on commonsense quality of life issues. I want to:

(1) Synchronize traffic signals so that you can go from one end of Cambridge to the other in a reasonable amount of time. Synchronizing traffic signals eases traffic flow, reduces idling which is good for our air quality, is optimal at 25mph (it won't cause a speedway) and reduces speeding cars down neighborhood roads.

(2) Clean up Harvard and Central Squares, providing focus to the homeless situation and addressing those areas that consistently smell like trash and urine. I believe public restrooms are a good start but only a band-aid to this situation. The homeless need beds and mental health services provided by the state. I will work to provide these necessities. Also, I want to work with the Cambridge police to develop humane solutions to encourage homeless to go to shelters and with the DPW to enhance the cleaning of areas that consistently smell like urine.

(3) Improve snow removal service.

Q: Where do people put the snow when they shovel off the sidewalks?

A: Into the street.


Q: Where do the plows push the snow off the streets?

A: Onto the sidewalks.


Q: Where does the snow go when people do not shovel?

A: It stays on sidewalks, melts, compacts into ice, and becomes a hazard.

Snow removal is terrible as many do not shovel their sidewalks and the city could employ better enforcement of its ordinance. Typically, the snow becomes ice creating a public safety hazard for many including senior citizens, the disabled, and those with strollers.

Simply put, snow removal service needs improvement. My plan is tri-fold. First, there needs to be better enforcement for those who do not shovel their walks. If the city enforces the ordinance, there will be additional funds to hire workers to shovel. Second, allocate resources for seasonal, temporary snow emergency workers who will provide additional assistance to our DPW employees. We have a city full of people who are always looking for extra income. Third, there needs to be better coordination of snow pickup. There shouldn't be snow being pushed back and forth between sidewalk and streets and there shouldn't be mounds of snow in what should be available parking spaces for weeks. The city needs to have a better plan to pickup and dump snow.

(4) Implement a volunteer-based, public service program to help senior citizens with their day-to-day activities, such as getting with their groceries, cutting their lawn. It's a good way to get young people involved in public service and in their community. It will also help bridge the generation gap between young and older and that is good for Cambridge.

(5) Provide late-night dining solutions in the forms of late night bakeries, diners, and cafes,

(6) Expand bike lanes and increase the number of bike racks

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
The quality of life for many voters in Cambridge is not as prosperous as others. Those who live in relatively safe neighborhoods tend to forget or disregard those areas where public safety is not at its strongest. Don't be fooled. Unsafe or less safe areas do exist in Cambridge and the city should do more to increase security and provide broader safety to all residents.

In my experience living in Cambridge, a stabbing occurred steps from my home, a friend was robbed at knifepoint, and shootings occurred within a block from other friends' home (in broad daylight!). I have learned of a man being robbed, not once, but twice in the same night. I have reported gunshots in the evening, witnessed illicit activity outside the subway station, and observed the memorials resulting from violent crime. These happenings occurred in Mid Cambridge, Area 4, Cambridgeport, East Cambridge, Alewife, and Central Square-and certainly many more circumstances exist beyond my knowledge. Yes, crime can strike anywhere. But, more can certainly be done to ensure neighborhoods are protected. When neighborhoods are better protected, they will reflect a greater quality of life in our communities.

As city councilor,

  1. I will work to develop community policing in conjunction with neighborhood leaders and watch groups.
  2. I will seek to increase foot patrols of our public safety officers in areas of higher risk and to give our public safety officials the resources they need to address escalation in crime.
  3. I will encourage the hiring of more police officers.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
One of my top priorities is to improve traffic enforcement. It is far too common to see cars running red lights at major and minor intersections. It is far too convenient to shrug one's shoulders and write-off these tendencies to the driving culture of the Commonwealth. It goes without saying that every time a car runs a red light it has the potential of hurting another driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian. Expansion of driver training is not enough. Instead, the city needs actual enforcement of our driving bylaws and it needs to synchronize traffic signals to condition driver behavior. Also, I support encouraging greater bicycle use via increasing the number of bike lanes, add bike racks to move bicycles off the sidewalks, and providing tax credits for those who use their bicycle in lieu of an automobile.

The density in Cambridge makes parking difficult, especially when the universities are in session. Shortage of reasonable parking is among the reasons that fewer visitors come to Cambridge to spend their money. More accessible parking will increase the frequency of visitors and will bring economic gains to our city. Also, the cost of parking lots works as an impediment for longer sustained shopping which in turn hurts our economic growth.

As city councilor, I will work to:

  1. Increase parking around our economic hubs.
  2. Implement free parking for the initial 2 hours at city-operated lots.
  3. Partner with our universities to offer parking options to residents in our densest areas of the cities.
  4. Collaborate with neighborhood authorities to identify potential areas for community parking solutions.
  5. Support the construction of parking structures.
  6. Encourage owners of current lots to offer parking during non-business hours.

Municipal Finance:
The flexibility of city finances are directly linked to the availability of homeownership and the over-willingness to spend city funds on capital projects. As homeownership increases, so does a greater source of income for the city. Greater homeownership signifies mores sources of funding and better feasibility to maintain city services and invest in areas that foster more growth for business without the risk of increasing property taxes, meal taxes, etc.

As your city councilor, it will be my priority to create more opportunities to increase homeownership. Also, as your city councilor I will scrutinize capital projects to fully assess the need of each project. I will not rubberstamp construction projects just for the sake of spending your tax dollars. In addition, I will not support to increase the mayor's budget by 59% as what happened two years ago.

Government and Elections:
I support the Plan E Charter. However, should support for a change come forward, I will vote according to the electorate's wishes.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
The issue of zoning is rather contentious because some feel as though government should not intrude on one's property, while others see government oversight as critical to protecting communities against development.

My approach to this argument is balance. The city should encourage development but not at the outlandish risk to a neighborhood.

Q: What does this mean?
A: It means that zoning variances should be reasonably attainable for homeowners. If a homeowner wants to build an addition on his property, it should not be denied wholly due to the objections of one neighbor. However, if multiple neighbors object, perhaps then the construction should be reconsidered.

Each situation must be weighed separately but should be done responsibly by the particular zoning or conservation board: responsibly in the sense of listening to neighborhood concerns and making an assessment based on input from all parties. If there are multiple concerns raised and the conservation board ignores those concerns, then the board is ultimately failing its mission.

As city councilor, I will advise the city manager and recommend commission appointees who only have the educational and professional credentials to perform the job. I will reflect the values of the neighborhood when zoning issues come forward. In short - I will not rubberstamp development and I will listen to the voices of the neighborhood. If you oppose a development because it hurts the neighborhood, I will side with you. If you oppose a developer for the sake of opposing development, then I think a larger conversation needs to be had. Generally, I am opposed to infill, but I will consider it under specific circumstances.

Economic Development:
Over the last 30 years in Cambridge, residents have seen many businesses leave. In fact, too many have found that operating in Cambridge is unsustainable and as a result, we see a shortage of small, new businesses, and jobs and economic growth. We also see national, chain businesses taking over where the mom & pop businesses use to reside.

Over time, this is changing the look and feel of our community whereby it is having a negative effect on retaining the vibrant and urban culture that Cambridge is known and loved for.

As your city councilor, I will support policies that retain small business growth, while collaborating with neighborhood leaders to ensure that the culture of Cambridge is not slipping away. We have more than enough banks in Harvard and Central Square, don't we? Also, I will work to foster small business that reflects the creative culture of Cambridge.

Land Use:
In addition, I will collaborate in looking for unnecessary roadways and wasteful development. For example, where roadways are underutilized, I will suggest they be converted into promenades, parking, or green space. Simply walking around the squares, an average person can discover duplication of roadways and needless paving, which I believe can be better utilized in a more environmentally friendly and creative manner.

Human Services Programs:
After school programs play a critical role in the lives of our youth. After school programs provide an opportunity and outlet for kids to develop their skills and prepare for life's challenges. Also, they are a great way to involve people in their community. I believe we need to invest in after school programs and make them accessible to people from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Examples of programs that I would like to fund are:

  • Educational development, college preparation, vocational tech training
  • Career development, practical job training, work programs, computer literacy
  • Respect for foreign and diverse cultures
  • Cultivation of arts programs
  • Active recreation activities
  • Neighborhood outreach volunteerism
  • Youth biking, canoeing, and rowing

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Cambridge is densely populated and many neighborhoods have limited access to green space or parkland. In fact, Area 4, Mid-Cambridge, and Agassiz neighborhoods have the least amount of green space per 1,000 people. Green space adds to the quality of life and the current amount of park space does not meet the demand of the population. There needs to be more parks for active recreation sports and passive recreation activities.

As a soccer player, tennis player and someone who participates in many athletic activities, I value parks that allow kids and adults the ability to lead healthy active lives. I support the development of parks for active recreation use and I will work to increase the number of these locations.

  • Expand open space designation to protects green space from development
  • Locate excess property and develop parkland for active and passive recreation

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
It's important to encourage best practices that work in collaboration with our environment. My platform builds upon Cambridge's environmental policies.

  • Provide incentives for developers to build LEED standard homes
  • Work with the state legislature to advance environment protection initiatives in Cambridge such as expanding the bottle bill, forest preservation, and land acquisition (Magazine Beach)
  • Implement incentives to make homes green

Homeownership: We need to increase awareness of current housing programs and create more opportunities that allow renters to purchase a home and settle down in Cambridge. When renters become homeowners they invest in their property, support local businesses, and become more active in their community. That's good for everybody. More homes come from flexible zoning with developers that allow building to occur outside of a cumbersome process. We need to allow taller structures, not towers, in our economic hubs and near mass transit. Ideally, development should match the character of the neighborhood, but without forcing developers to jump through hoops.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge has a rich history of cultural celebration and appreciation of the arts. Acknowledging and paying tribute to our ancestry is not only important to our own unique community, but also it provides an opportunity to share your heritage with your neighbor. This exchange of multiculturalism is an important Cantabrigian virtue.

As your city councilor, I will support respectful appreciation of internationalism and diversity. Also, as an aficionado of foreign cultures and diversity, I will be a leading participant in the celebration of all of our backgrounds. I personally enjoy interaction with others from all parts of the world and I will encourage visitors from our surrounding communities to join and visit Cambridge during our multicultural festivals.

University Relations:
We are fortunate that Cambridge has world-class universities at its disposal. Our universities help to generate economic growth, cultural enrichment, and quality education to our residents and visiting students. Having strong relations helps to foment good cooperation between campus and government objectives that benefit all of Cambridge.

However, sometimes the ambitions of the universities and city of Cambridge are not in sync and when these situations occur, strong university relations are important to mediate a reasonable, practical outcome.

In recent history, the universities have demonstrated intent and practice to expand their campuses into residential neighborhoods. The threat that this poses is that the over-expansion eliminates taxable property and revenue. Universities are tax-exempt institutions as defined by the IRS and are not held liable for property taxes to the city. When universities purchase property from Cambridge residents it reduces homeownership for that section of land and then the city loses out on any taxable income from the property. The end result of this is a decrease in city revenue and an increase in property taxes to homeowners. Also, keep in mind that the universities do not contribute to the cost of government services that serve the university student body.

Therefore, it is important to work with our universities so that their development does not come at the cost to the city's tax dollars while driving property values to the point where residents can no longer afford to maintain them. As your city councilor, I will draw a line in the sand to halt unnecessary, needless, and harmful expansion. However, I will maintain strong relations with the universities for they are partners in making Cambridge stronger.

Civic Participation:
There once was a time when Cambridge had better voter turnout and civic participation. The city on three occasions even had 70% voter turnout. However, in recent history that activity has dipped to 29%. According to the city's municipal survey from 2006, only 1% of residents attended a city council meeting. Does this speak to voter apathy or a failure in the system to reach out to its electorate?

The long-term effect to a decrease of civic participation has been a government run amuck and an unaccountable city council, not beholden to its constituency. Accountability is down and an unchecked city government will cater to its personal whims and interests such as increasing the Mayor's budget by 59% to boost its staff (to make work easier).

The low voter turnout speaks to candidates that do not resonate with the voters and to the lack of information disseminated to the public. As your city councillor, I will mobilize the electorate on issues that impact the city at the state level, such as the gerrymandering that divided the city into small chunks. I will work to organize Cantabrigians to demand reconciliation from the state for the gerrymandering that has taken place. Together, we will strengthen Cambridge by returning it to a united city with stronger electoral power.

Page last updated October 28, 2007 Cambridge Candidates