Denise Simmons

Denise Simmons
2007 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
188 Harvard Street
Cambridge MA 02139

Contact information:
e-mail: councilorsimmons1@gmail 

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Denise Simmons
P.O. Box 390602
Cambridge MA 02139

I am a lifelong resident of Cambridge with a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for Cambridge residents. I own a small business and am closely attuned to the needs of small business owners. I am raising my grandchildren who are currently in Cambridge Public Schools. My 10 years on the Cambridge School Committee attest to my commitment to the quality of our public schools. Prior to serving on the School Committee, I served as Executive Director of the Civic Unity Committee of the City of Cambridge, working on equity and fairness. I am also a Justice of the Peace.

I am currently serving my third term on the Cambridge City Council, chairing the Neighborhood & Long Term Planning Committee. I'm a member of the National Committee on Youth, Families and Education and Human Development Committee (National League of Cities); the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee; and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

  • Elected Member, Cambridge City Council (2002-present)
  • Elected Member, Cambridge School Committee 1992-2001 ,Serving as the Vice Chair 96, 98, 01
  • Member, Massachusetts Municipal Association (2002-present)
  • Member, Massachusetts Democratic State Committee (2001-present)
  • Member, National Committee on Youth, Families and Education and the Human Development Committee of the National League of Cities
  • Member of the Baystate Stonewall Democrats
  • Cambridge Civic Unity Committee, City of Cambridge, Executive Director 82-02
  • Licensed Insurance Broker and Owner, Cambridgeport Insurance Agency, est. 1983
  • Justice of the Peace and Notary Public

Top Priorities:
Public Safety, Housing, Economic Development, Education, and Civic Participation

Quality of Life:
Each resident deserves to enjoy a high quality of life. We cannot have residents living outside of the privileges afforded by a prosperous city. Through town meetings, and meetings in neighborhood and schools, I will bring the voices of the citizens to City Hall.

Public Safety:
Neighborhood safety is a critical issue in our city. As the chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee I have held meetings where members of neighborhood associations and activists were invited to share information about what was happening in their neighborhoods. The idea behind this approach is that we are stronger as a city when we connect to each other and share our problems and resources.

In July 2006 after numerous shootings in Area Four and Riverside I called for an emergency meeting of the city council to take up the issue of neighborhood violence in our city. As a result of that meeting I proposed the establishment of a neighborhood safety committee. The order passed on a 9-0 vote. The Neighborhood Safety Committee had its first meeting in February 2007 and continues to meet.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Because Cambridge is becoming more and more densely populated and more cars are coming into our city, I believe that we should revisit the concept of car-free spaces. I have consistently supported the Green Street Initiative-walk your child to school-and hope that all city workers will adopt the same initiative.

Municipal Finance (Budget, Assessments, Property Taxes, etc.):
I am proud to have been a member of the City Council that voted a budget with minimal increase to the taxpayer

Land Use, Planning:
As the chair of Neighborhood and Long Term planning, I have worked to bring neighborhood groups together so that they learn from each other and become better informed. One task I would like to the city council to undertake is to inventory large parcels of land, so that we can plan appropriately for the use of vacant lots and for land use.

Economic Development:
Small businesses are the life-blood of our community and provide the largest source of employment and revenue for our city. Women and minority owned businesses are the fastest growing businesses in our city. Over the last ten years I have worked to strengthen our economic development policy to encourage micro enterprises.

I want to encourage more business growth for the purpose of job creation. In July 2007 Van Jones from Oakland, California spoke about a new initiative to encourage green collar jobs. This initiative will promote environmentally progressive business opportunities and job creation. These jobs will take advantage of the growing interest in bringing new job opportunities to those seeking entry-level positions while increasing awareness stimulating a new environmental consciousness.

Human Services:
Our Community Schools programs are some of the premier programs in the City. Through these programs the City offers enrichment programs to all its residents, particularly families. Some community schools programs also offer civic participation opportunities through their neighborhood councils. During the next term I want to see the community schools program strengthened and active neighborhood councils in all eleven neighborhoods.

I continue to advocate for quality childcare for all children, and greater inter-agency collaboration.

In 2006, I ran the second Senior Town meeting. Through the department of human services we are addressing the concerns that seniors expressed during this meeting around traffic signals on Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square and in North Cambridge on Massachusetts Avenue near the Arlington line. We have continued to press the MBTA on their adherence to the proper pick up and drop off procedures when seniors board buses.

When I visit seniors in their residences and at senior centers, many of them tell me that that they enjoy the range of services being offered but that they would like to see a greater availability of trips to some of the local shopping centers and even some out of state trips, I will continue to hold these town meetings and bring the voices of our seniors to City Hall.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
The general health of our community is extremely important. Problems that compromise the quality of life of our residents, particularly those in disenfranchised neighborhoods must be addressed. Over the past three terms I have worked on rodent and insect infestations in the community and in our multiunit buildings, the proliferation of cases of asthma among our children, and childhood obesity.

With regard to the rodent issue, I was the member of the Council who asked the city to purchase state of the art trash receptacles in bulk, which would enable residents to purchase them at a lower price than the prices charged by retail stores. I have called for a systemic approach to rodent control by engaging experts from our universities.

I have also turned my attention to issues of environmental justice. In July of 2007 I co-sponsored a Green Jobs Forum; where the city of Cambridge, the state and others came together to learn about how we can develop a green collar/environmental movement that includes all people.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
I will continue to support the upgrading of parks particularly in underserved neighborhoods. All residents, no matter where they live, should have quality open areas where they can take their families, walk their dogs, or meet with their neighbors. Keeping our parks safe is important for the full utilization of our open spaces.

My commitment to affordable housing continues to be strong. Over the last term I have pushed for a housing policy that would increase the number of larger families units per housing development. I have and will continue to press the City Council and City administration to look at eligibility formulas. Our current eligibility formula has left too many people below the income range for some of our affordable housing programs and projects.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Diversity is one of the gems of our City. I will continue to support programs and projects that celebrate our diversity and our history. I am proud to be the sponsor of an order, voted unanimously by City Council to place a monument to Prince Hall, on the Cambridge Common. Prince Hall, the founder of African American Free Masonry, is considered by some to be a founding father. Prince Hall is noted for starting the first school for African Americans, in a building that still stands today.

University Relations:
Our universities are a great resource, and as a resource I look to the university community to garner support for programs. During the next term I will be looking to the universities for support of the Green Jobs Initiative.

Civic Participation:
Participatory democracy has been a cornerstone of my work. Through town meetings, direct contact with citizens, workshops and meetings I bring City Hall to the citizens of Cambridge and then bring whatever concerns I hear back to City Hall.

People often ask me why I serve. My response is that I serve because I view public service as one of the greatest opportunities to make change in our communities, our city, and our state. Public service as an elected official provides me the ability to advocate for the families and the citizens of Cambridge at the highest level.

I believe in public education, in working for excellence in education for all children. As a parent of school age children and a former member of the Cambridge School Committee, I know the importance of a good education. In this term I organized meetings for parents entitled " Real Kids, Real Schools, Real Success. The purpose to these workshops was to look at schools that are succeeding at educating all children at the highest levels. Addressing the achievement gap is very important. My approach is proactive: Let's look at what is working and apply it to the Cambridge school system. We have the resources but we need to have the will; our children deserve the best we can offer them. We serve best when we work together, my first term on the city council I asked for the establishment of the City Council-School. Committee Roundtable so that the City Council and the School Committee will be in better communication with each other. We now meet together at least 3 times per year to talk about challenges facing the schools along with possible solutions. This has fostered understanding and collegiality.

No response yet on:
6) Government and Elections (Plan E Charter, City Manager, staff for councillors, etc.):

Candidate's 2005 responses 

Page last updated May 10, 2009 Cambridge Candidates