Charles Marquardt

Charles Marquardt
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
10 Rogers Street #1120
Cambridge, MA 02142

Contact information:
Tel: 617-586-6264

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Charles J Marquardt
P.O. Box 410005
Cambridge, MA 02141
[Donations can also be made online at]


  • Born in Boston (St. Margaret's Hospital) as the first of six children and raised in Billerica and Winchester, MA.
  • Family has owned Coady-Galgay Florist in Cambridge since 1970.
  • Live in East Cambridge
  • BA in Biology and Economics from Williams College
  • MBA from Boston University
  • Certified Public Accountant


  • Have spent time auditing small and large companies and municipalities for KPMG and managing operations for divisions of Wachovia Bank, including Evergreen Investments and Wachovia Alternative Strategies encompassing 100's of employees and contractors and annual budgets approach $100 million.
  • Lecturer on Law at Boston University's School of Law where I teach lawyers accounting and analysis of financial statements
  • Avid runner, basketball player, recovering golfer and prolific reader

Top Priorities:

1) Restore leadership to the City Council

  • The pendulum in the balance of power between the Council and the Manager has swung too far towards the manager.
  • This balance must be restored to give the people of Cambridge their rightful voice in their government.

2) Lead the process for a more responsive City government

a. We need a new City Manager

i. The identification of the City's next City Manager is the most important item facing the next City Council

ii. The process must start with the Council elected on November 3rd

b. Put the Community back in Cambridge

i. Community Development should benefit not threaten a neighborhood

ii. We need thoughtful transitions from commercial to residential neighborhoods not walls of brick and steel.

c. Public Safety

i. People should feel safe on our streets and in their homes

ii. Our Police Department needs to return to a more community-based approach focusing on safety over strictly enforcement. People love the police and want to see them more often and in non-enforcement situations. Interactions with the police in non-enforcement situations enables earlier intervention with residents resulting in better outcomes for all.

iii. We need to get past "NO" and utilize available technologies to enhance public safety

3) Stop mortgaging our future to look good today

  • Cambridge has substantial obligations for other post employment benefits for which we need to plan today and not put our head in the sand and hope it gets better.

  • We need to plan for these obligations with a public and open process to both let the taxpayers know where their money is going and allow for the input of resident experts in the field.

  • We are placing the fiscal health of our children and grandchildren at risk by not addressing this issue today.

Public Safety:
The people of Cambridge have a right to feel safe on the City's streets and in their own homes.

Public safety is about the police and the people of Cambridge working together. This takes trust. We need to work to restore the trust that has been lost over the past months so that we are all focused on the well being of ALL residents of Cambridge. This will require the review process for the arrest of Professor Gates be as open and transparent as possible. The City Council as the elected leaders of the City needs to ensure that this indeed happens. We also need to restore the Police Review and Advisory Board to full staffing. The lack of an executive director hinders the ability of the PRAB to fulfill its mission and needs to be addressed immediately. The City Council needs to hold the City Manager accountable for his delay in filling this position.

We need to work together to return to a community-based approach to public safety from the current enforcement based approach. People like the Police and want to see them in their neighborhoods and get to know them in non-enforcement situations.

We need to identify ways to utilize technology to help us reduce crime and catch criminals. These technologies are readily available and, as recent events in Brookline show, can be a valuable tool. Rather than just say no, we need to find a way to safeguard the information gathered by the technology so they can be there to help us fight crime and catch criminals.

We also need to resolve the issue of information provided by the police to the public regarding police activities. This involves a policy decision regarding the balance of public information and public safety. This needs to involve the City Council as the City's public policy body.

Quality of Life:
We must be responsive and pro-active when confronted with issues that affect our quality of live. It does not take long for one rat or mouse to turn to ten, twenty or more. Sidewalks left covered in snow soon become a dangerous sheet of ice. A single loud and boisterous party can easily become a weekly or more frequent event. Humming of rooftop equipment deprives one of sleep and makes you cranky or worse. Prompt attention and responses to these matters requires that the City respond to resident concerns and, equally important, that residents report their concerns and not allow them to go unresolved. You are paying for and deserve a City government and City Council that responds to your issues and concerns and a proactive, prompt and open manner.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
We have a limited amount of space, which we all share. Sharing requires common rules and common decency in dealing with each other. Too often when we talk about transportation, traffic and parking we speak about how to limit or inhibit one group of travelers to the benefit of another group. We need to move beyond the "us versus them" approach to traffic and parking and work towards a common solution that results in a better outcome for all of us. We also need to work wherever possible to make it easier for people to get out of their cars and use some other mode of transportation be it buses, subways, bicycles or walking.

Fiscal Sustainability:
Cambridge has weathered past financial storms. However, we must not let past success drive complacency in the face of coming storms. We must work to ensure that our approach to municipal finance is sustainable long term. This does not mean cutting the budget or reducing funding levels for the programs that make Cambridge a great city. It does mean looking at how we are spending our money and planning for our future obligations so we are not mortgaging the future to pay for the present.

Over the past few years we have:

  • Aggressively enhanced our infrastructure (new police station, expanded library and rehabilitating the high school) which were needed and likely more costly then necessary which have added to our debt burden;
  • Experienced significant losses in the City's pension plan of over $200 million in 2008 to go with the existing unfunded pension liability of $67 million at the start of 2008; and
  • Deferred funding our obligation to provide post employment health care benefits to City employees. This unfunded obligation was over $600 million at the start of 2006!

We need to focus on our fiscal sustainability now lest we be faced with having to raise taxes, cut services, cut benefits, delay future capital projects, including much needed rehabilitations to certain elementary schools, or some combination of all four. We have the knowledge and resources to position the City to be a leader in meeting its current and future fiscal needs but we must start now and stop delaying the difficult discussions and decisions. We must also do this in a more transparent and open manner. Cambridge has residents with significant experience in these matters, we need to tap this experience and knowledge for the benefit of the greater community.

The People's Government:
Slowly but surely, the City Council has ceded its authority and leadership, and that of the residents who elect them, to the City Manager. The balance of power between the Council and the Manger is delicate, but the pendulum has swung too far to the side of the Manager leaving the control of the City in the hands of an unelected leader. This balance must be restored to give the people of Cambridge their rightful voice in their government. I will work to restore the balance of power starting the very first day I am sworn in as your Councillor.

Plan E:
Plan E is a good form of government. It has served Cambridge well. It does, however, require a balance of power between the City Council and City Manager. Let's restore the balance of power.

Discussion about transitioning to a new form of government is potentially a manifestation of the imbalance of power between the City Manager and the Council. Let's restore the balance between the Manager and Council first to see if that is the cause of the current dissatisfaction. If not, we should look at other potential changes to the structure of government to ensure that it is the most effective for the City and its residents.

City Manager:
The Council is responsible for hiring and overseeing the City Manager. If there is an issue with the City Manager we should first look to the City Council and ask: Has the Council done a good job overseeing the Manager? Unfortunately, the answer too often has been "NO". We need just look at the handling of the Monteiro case and the aftermath of the arrest of Professor Gates to see examples of where the Council has failed to exercise their oversight obligations fully.

The dynamic between the current Council and City Manager has swung too much to the City Manager. This must be remedied. We need a new City Manager. This will be the single largest undertaking for the Council elected on November 3rd.

Staff for Councillors:
Individual staff for City Councillors does not make sense. Shared staff or subject matter experts can make sense for short periods when the Council is dealing with specific matters. Neither does accepting a pay raise in the midst of an economic crisis that is causing hardship for many of the people who the Councillors serve. If elected I commit to not have an individual aide nor will I accept a pay raise during the upcoming term.

Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
Development is important for the continued growth of the City and its tax base. It provides new housing for those who wish to call Cambridge home and space for companies to provide new jobs for Cambridge residents. However, all too often neighbors and neighborhoods fell threatened by development. The answer to these concerns is not to ban development, but to open the process up for the involvement of neighbors and all Cantabrigians. Currently public involvement in the process is encouraged to a certain point after which decisions are made that often leave people scratching their heads. These decisions are made by the unelected and, often, unaccountable, boards and committees that make up Cambridge government.

We need to restore accountability to the boards and committees that control many development decisions. Restoring the balance of power between the Council and the City Manager will be an important first step in this process.

We also need to ensure that development not only benefits the City as a whole, but also benefits the neighborhoods in which the development is conducted. We need overarching goals for development in each neighborhood that will need to be met before development is allowed to proceed.

Economic Development:
Economic development and expansion is critical to the City's future growth and success. A strong economic base of employers of all sizes in diverse industries provides the City with a steady stream of tax revenues and employment opportunities for current and future residents.

We need to focus on supporting our local small businesses and entrepreneurs. These businesses contribute to their neighborhood vitality and often provide the first employment opportunities for neighborhood children. Yet the City often places barriers to the success of these very businesses on which the neighborhoods rely. As a member of a family that has run a small business in Cambridge for nearly 40 years I will fight to protect and preserve these cornerstones of our neighborhoods.

We also need to encourage small and large business to locate and grow in Cambridge. This starts with providing opportunities for incubator or start up companies from the universities to set up shop and thrive in the City. There is no reason that we should not be home to the vast majority of companies started at our local universities. We also need to work with our larger employers to help them overcome any obstacles to staying and growing in the City. We should not be surprised if one decides to leave as we should have already been working with them to help them stay. I would propose forming a Council Committee to coordinate with City agencies, other Council Committees and the City's employers to enhance economic development in the City, but we already have such a Committee, the Economic Development, Training and Employment Committee. The only issue is that its last meeting was on June 20, 2007 more than 2 years ago. We need to make this a priority and as a Councillor I will make it a priority.

Human Services Programs:
Focus on Children
Childhood is when we develop many of the habits that affect the remainder of our lives. From learning to read and write to what we eat, this is when we establish many of the patterns for later in life. This is a time where we as a City and as neighbors can help make a lasting difference. We need to support programs that give children and their parents the information, tools and encouragement to be successful in these choices.

Focus on Young Adults
We have made significant promises to our young residents to provide them with an education and opportunities that will outfit them with the skills needed to have the opportunity for success later in life. But teachers and the schools cannot do it alone. We need to support programs that help provide our young adults with the tools necessary to make choices in their lives that prepare them for future success.

Focus on the Aging
We need to remember the people who helped build this city and make it great. Seniors are not the past they are a valuable resource for the present and the future. We need to support programs that allow them to age gracefully in a manner befitting all they did for us in building the city and raising us and our children and grandchildren.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Cambridge has a limited supply of open space available for parks, recreation or future development. It is a precious resource that needs to be marshaled and protected. Open space, parks and fields help make Cambridge a livable City for those who live, work and go to school here. As your City Councillor I will advocate for the continued stewardship of this limited resource.

Energy and the Environment:
We are the stewards of our environment and we have an obligation to pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better condition than when we first received it. The need to be better stewards of our environment has become increasingly clear over the past decade. Governments, civic organizations and individuals have taken up efforts to reduce their energy consumption and impact on the environment. Cambridge has been a leader in many of these areas. Yet, the journey is just beginning, we must do better and we must continue to harness the know how resident in Cambridge's residents, businesses and universities to seek additional means to further limit our combined impact on our environment.

We have within our borders some of the brightest minds in the world working on groundbreaking technologies in clean energy. We need to seize the opportunity. These scientists are developing new technologies that could change the world. They need a real world laboratory in which to test their developments. We need to partner to allow them to use our buildings to test their technologies. Overseen and monitored properly this program would provide the scientists with a means to "field" test their technology and the City with new technologies to lessen our dependency on fossil fuels.

Structured properly not only could the City see a reduction in its fossil fuel use but also a new revenue stream from ownership stakes in these emerging companies.

Public Health:
The City must be responsive and pro-active when confronted with public health issues. One sick child quickly becomes a classroom full. A small bed bug infestation can quickly overwhelm and entire building if left unchecked. Prompt attention and responses to these matters requires that the City respond to resident concerns and, equally important, that residents report their concerns and not allow them to go unresolved. You are paying for and deserve a City government and City Council that responds to your issues and concerns and a proactive and open manner.

Over the past year there has been much confusion and angst about changes at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Changes, including clinic closures, brought about by the precipitous decline in the local and national economy and reductions in the Commonwealth's budget combined with the continued escalation in health care costs. It is not an issue that Cambridge or the Council can solve alone. It is an issue that continues to vex us on a state, national and international level.

While the City and City Council alone cannot solve the issues facing Health Alliance, they can work to ensure that the residents of the City and neighbors of the clinics receive clear, concise and timely communication of changes before they happen. Health care is important to us all and not knowing how changes will impact you can create a large stress in our lives. The City, City Council and Health Alliance can and need to do a better job communicating changes. Cambridge residents deserve a clear and consistent message from all to help alleviate some of the concern that these changes bring.

The Cambridge Health Alliance is an integral part of our community as an employer, neighbor and provider of health car services. The Health Alliance needs a strong and vibrant City to help support its mission and goals. The City needs a strong and vibrant Health Alliance to help provide health care services to its residents across the entire spectrum of needs and demographics. We need to make sure we all continue working together to support this mutually beneficial relationship.

Cambridge is a desirable city in which to live. We have a community that is the envy of many. Desirability comes with a cost. The cost of housing in Cambridge has and continues to be significant.

We need to be able to and must provide assistance to our neighbors and fellow residents who need help in securing affordable housing. However, the number of people desiring to live in Cambridge and needing assistance will continue to outweigh our financial ability to provide support for affordable housing. There simply is not enough money, land or housing stock to meet the demand. Therefore, we need to continually evaluate our affordable housing plans to ensure that they are meeting the needs of today and planning for tomorrow. As your City Councillor I will work to ensure that the City and its agencies and boards are developing plans best designed to meet the needs of the City's residents.

There is another aspect of housing that we must also not forget and that is the housing for our seniors. After many years of contributing to society and making Cambridge great they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes having senior housing that is not only affordable but is also a safe place for them to live. Safe from potential physical threat and, even more important, safe from threats to their health. We need to ensure that senior facilities in the City are not adding to the health woes that many of our seniors face.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge is a City with much to celebrate whether it be the success of a resident, a local university or the varied groups that help make the fabric of the city strong. We need to continue to encourage and support these celebrations from the larger citywide events to smaller neighborhood block parties.

University Relations:
The many colleges and universities that call Cambridge home add to Cambridge's reputation as a diverse, unique and sophisticated city. They add greatly to the fabric of our community through their students, faculty and staff and the almost limitless opportunities that they provide for us to interact with a student body with boundless enthusiasm for what can be. However, the universities can also have a less benevolent side. Their expansion can overwhelm the character and livability of our neighborhoods. Our universities need to remember that many of their students elect to attend their institution precisely because it is located in Cambridge and that Cambridge contributes to their success just as the universities contribute to our success. What we all need to remember, Cambridge and university denizens alike is that we share a common goal in ensuring that the relationship between the city and the universities is beneficial to all otherwise we risk destroying that which makes Cambridge and the universities great, our neighborhoods.

I support and will work towards increasing the benefits derived from the universities wherever possible including access to facilities, classes and resources for neighborhood groups, Cambridge Public Schools and other community members. I would also support negotiations with the universities to develop a way that their Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) more accurately reflect the burdens felt by the City. I would also support establishing PILOT payments for those institutions that do not currently make such payments or have agreements in place.

When it comes to university expansion I support and will work towards the inclusion of requirements for meaningful public open space; affordable- and moderate- income housing for community members; restrictions on density, height and use of new buildings; and, of course, traffic and parking policies that are sensitive to neighborhood concerns.

The goal is not to "take" from the university, but to develop a common understanding of our shared goals for Cambridge and drive towards the alignment of our resources to ensure a positive outcome for Cambridge, our neighborhoods and the colleges and universities.

Civic Engagement:
Cambridge is stronger when its citizens are actively engaged in government. We need to encourage participation in neighborhood, civic and issues oriented groups. I will also propose an order that the City Council hold one meeting a month in each of the wards so that each ward get hit once a year. I would propose that these meetings not be business as usual meetings, but a meeting to hear the issues relevant to your neighborhood. You pay our salaries you should be able to expect us to come to you once in a while.

Voter turnout for municipal elections hit a record low of 13,721 in 2007. This means that less than14,000 voters determined the government and leaders for Cambridge a City with over 100,000 residents. Many reasons have been given for low voter turnout from apathy, to a belief that your vote does not matter, to a lack of understanding of the role of City Council.

Regardless of the reason, the 2009 election is, in my opinion, the most important municipal election since the days of rent control with many reasons for you to vote:

  • You will be electing the City Council that hires a new City Manger. We have had the same City Manager for almost three decades so this is a significant decision.
  • You will determine if you want a City Council that will restore the balance of power between the Council and the City Manager or keep the status quo.
  • You will determine who you want leading this City as we head into difficult fiscal waters in FY2011, which many are predicting will be a significantly worse budget year for the state and cities and towns than FY2010.

I urge you to consider the importance of your vote and encourage you to vote on November 3, 2009.

Cambridge Public Schools:
Excellence in education is a must for Cambridge. We need to push to continue to close the achievement gap while raising the achievement bar for all students. Our goal must be to have the best school system in the state and the country. A strong public school system will help prepare our children for success in life regardless of what path they may choose to pursue. As your City Councillor I will work closely with my colleagues on the School Committee to ensure that the collaborative community between teachers, parents, students and neighborhoods is nourished and encouraged. I will also work for a budget that has plans that support student attraction, student retention and student achievement as its priorities.

CCTV candidate video
Sept 9, 2009 Candidate Forum

Page last updated October 11, 2009 Cambridge Candidates