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|Background and Experience in Public Service:
I am a lifelong resident of Cambridge with a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for Cambridge residents. 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 own a small business and am closely attuned to the needs of small business owners. I am also a Justice of the Peace.
I am currently serving my fourth term on the Cambridge City Council and am honored to have been elected to serve as Mayor by my colleagues on the Council. My obligations as Mayor include chairing the City Council and the School Committee and representing the City in numerous official events. I am a member of the Massachusetts Mayors Association; Massachusetts Democratic State Committee; the Massachusetts Municipal Association; and the Kids Council.
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
I also continue to listen to the concerns of individual residents during one-on-one meetings, and I try to locate solutions to this difficult problem with our Department of Traffic and Transportation. The answers are not always readily apparent, but we shall continue to work together to find solutions that best suit Cambridge.
I worked with the MBTA and local taxi companies to provide better transportation options for seniors and others with mobility issues. Examples include addressing bus drivers’ failure to pull up to the curb; and arranging for Cambridge taxis to be available at the Porter square shopping center so that seniors can use Cambridge taxi vouchers there.
However, when crimes have been committed, I have acted swiftly to help contain and control the situation. In the summer of 2009, there were numerous shootings in North Cambridge, and I responded to this uptick in violence by holding regular meetings with the Police Commissioner, representatives of the property management companies, representatives of the Cambridge Housing Authority, and with those who live in the affected areas.
I have continued to support the Neighborhood Safety Committee, which I helped implement some years ago. This committee issued a report with many recommendations related to job training and placement, neighborhood safety awareness, etc. The Cambridge Works Program emerged from the recommendations. I will work toward implementation of other recommendations in the report.
I am continuing to work with the Police and community members on taking preventative measures for the future.
I have worked on street safety for seniors and others with limited mobility by initiating the posting of “Slow, Seniors” signs at high traffic intersections.
I have been fully behind the effort to lower the rodent population in the city via requiring citizens to use covered, rodent-proof trash cans along with high-tech solar trash receptacles in several parks and squares that have high rodent populations due to accessible food-based trash.
Central Square Atmosphere and Safety: I supported and participated in a clean-up of Central Square and have worked with business owners to do more to contain littering, especially cigarette butts. I arranged for higher police presence in Central Square, especially after the Police Department relocated to East Cambridge last fall.
Quality of Life:
Government, Elections, and Civic participation:
I am fully aware of the low citizen participation in municipal elections and have taken two steps towards increasing participation over time. With the Kennedy School of Government I initiated the Citizen Advocate Academy that will sponsor a meeting/training for Cambridge residents on how to effectively participate in local government. I also initiated a Girls’ Leadership program to encourage girls 12-15 to start thinking about citizen involvement and leadership.
While the issue of staffing for city councilors is a relatively recent development in the history of the city, the fact is that each city councilor is answerable to over 100,000 constituents. Some of those constituents need more assistance, more time, and more guidance then others. Some problems are more intractable than others. There are only so many hours in the day, only so many days in the week, for the nine city councilors to devote to any one individual, and so having research assistants help with the caseload does make sense to me. My feeling is that if we can hire research assistants without unduly inflating the operating budget, and if it helps us provide better service to our constituents, then this is a beneficial development.
Housing, Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
I support the Planning Board’s decision to reject the Connor petition. But I also know that we should look at our zoning guidelines and review exceptions made to them every few years. We need to make sure development in our city is in keeping with the City Council’s goal of having a sustainable Cambridge.
My office has spent the past two years helping numerous people navigate through the process of applying for and securing public housing by making sure that people are aware of their best options, by pairing them with knowledgeable advocates, and by holding regular meetings with representatives of the Cambridge Housing Authority. Homelessness and searching for housing can be daunting in the best of times, and I have a firm belief that empathy, patience, and solid direction are needed for those who find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
Economic Development and Commerce:
In 2008 and 2009 I have been co-chairing the Green Jobs Task Force, comprised of a cross-section of department heads, economic experts, and active citizens. We are all working together to determine how to promote and incorporate "green collar” jobs into the local economy. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced to other countries and that our Cambridge residents need and deserve. I recently garnered $100,000 for job training and job placement in the green economy.
Human Services Programs:
I formed the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on 0-18 to look into services and programs for children of all ages. The Commission recently submitted its first report on out-of-school time activities and resources for middle-school children. I look forward to working on the implementation of the report’s recommendations. I also organized a group of parents parenting their grandchildren.
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Given that an analysis of emissions in Cambridge revealed that 80% of citywide emissions comes from existing buildings, all new construction or renovations to city buildings should meet LEED standards. (LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a widely recognized green building certification system.) The city is considering, and I will support if feasible, adoption of the Stretch Energy Code, whose standards are even more rigorous.
In the interest of both health and energy efficiency, I formed the Mayor’s Committee on Green Schools that will look into the greening of our public schools. The committee will look at the energy efficiency of our school buildings so that future renovations will create both energy efficiency and healthier environments for our children. We should begin renovation in the least efficient buildings and consider solar and wind power where feasible. I plan to work proactively with the Cambridge Energy Alliance to work on buildings. The current goal is to reduce water and electricity consumption by 10%, city-wide.
In addition to the creation of new cleaner energy, I support the use of biodiesel in city vehicles; expansion of hybrid taxis, and diminished use of single-occupant vehicles.
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 four terms, I have worked to ensure that the City is responsive to reports of rodent and insect infestations in residential buildings throughout the City. I have also worked with our Inspectional Services Department to crack down on buildings that are unsanitary or that have factors that may contribute to cases of asthma among our children.
I have worked with members of the Women's Commission and the Cambridge Health Alliance to design and promote fitness programs. I funded health and fitness projects. and I have also been in active talks with healthcare entities like the Cambridge Health Alliance and Youville Hospital, urging them to continue providing vital services to our residents and to make decisions regarding their services--especially cuts in services--in an open way that involves the community.
Arts and Public Celebrations:
A project I have spent considerable time working on has been the construction of a monument to civil rights pioneer Prince Hall, who blazed a trail for the country during the Revolutionary War era. Prince Hall would go on to found African American Free Masonry, is considered by some to be a founding father, and I have been proud to help him finally get the recognition he deserves.
I have worked to establish a non-profit privately-funded organization that would find arts programs for children called One for the Arts. Once established, it will provide a way for people to easily give one dollar (or more) to fund city arts programs.
As mayor, I have had the pleasure of working with both Harvard and MIT in producing the annual senior picnics, and I have been generally pleased with the working relationships between all the local universities and the residents that live near them. Lesley University, for example, has taken pains to hold many meetings with neighborhood representatives as they have planned expansions and new construction, and this is exactly the way our universities should be behaving.
In addition, when I have been designing and promoting programs such as the Mayor's Girls Leadership Group or the Boys To Men program, or I have enacted different charitable programs, I have found ready and willing partners within the local universities, and their assistance has been invaluable. These programs have been a great success in their initial phases, and I hope to continue and grow these programs in the years ahead.
Cambridge Public Schools:
We serve best when we all work together, so during the last term, we have continued holding regular City Council-School Committee Roundtable meetings so that the City Council and the School Committee could 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, and it has helped us focus during the search for a new superintendent of schools.
I have also initiated two programs, the Mayor's Girls Leadership Group and the Boys to Men Program. These programs are aimed at 12 - 14 year old girls and boys who are poised to enter high school. The purpose of these groups has been to teach these young adults about the importance of working hard now, presenting themselves well, and setting the stage for future success. I worked to have successful role models speak with the participants, and share tips on things that may help them along the way to adulthood. The programs have been received enthusiastically, and I cannot wait to see what these exceptional young people do with their lives.
Over the 2008-2009 term, I lead the conversation and direction of the coordinating council on children, youth and families called the Kids' Council. The work lead to an exciting partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government that helped us develop a three year strategic plan which includes the publication of a biennial report on the status of children and families in Cambridge. In addition, I convened the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Middle School Youth and the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Early Childhood Education. The report of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Middle School Youth (BRC) is available online on the Mayor's Office webpage.
|Page last updated October 15, 2009||Cambridge Candidates|