- Born and raised in Washington DC.
- Annunciation Grade School, Gonzaga High School.
- Came to Cambridge in 1972.
- 3 degrees from MIT (Architecture and Chemical Engineering).
- Lived in Hingham, MA and Reading, MA (I highly recommend either if
you can't live in Cambridge).
- Returned to Cambridge in 1999.
- Married to Katharine Malcolm Stohlman and proud parent to Olive, Joe
(CRLS 2004) and Jack (CRLS 2008).
- Practicing architect, specializing in homes.
- Practicing politician, avid hiker, photographer, videographer,
lifelong learner (aka: nerd), and volunteer.
1) Be a good listener.
- Govern by walking around.
- Hold City Council meetings in all the neighborhoods.
2) Conserve what makes Cambridge great.
- Keep proportional representation, city leadership by an elected City
Council, and city management by professionals.
- Adopt city policies which encourage respect and tolerance towards
3) Change what isn't working.
- Recognize that if City Government is unresponsive, it is the City
Council's responsibility to change or clarify policy and help the City
Manager implement the policy with clear and timely feedback.
- Make it easy for people to be good citizens.
4) Lead by example.
- Provide a helping hand when no one else will.
- Make sure our public property is safe and well-maintained.
- Voted in Cambridge Municipal elections.
- Shoveled snow for free all over Cambridge after the blizzard of
- Volunteer member of the Accord Pond Watershed Committee.
- Help develop and pass new zoning for the Hingham shipyard.
- Town Meeting member.
- Volunteer and tutor at Reading Public Schools.
- Elected and appointed to Planning Board.
- Lead the development of a Town Master Plan.
- Elected Town Meeting member.
- Elected School Committee member.
- President, Friends of Reading Public Library.
- Provided free architectural design services to the Reading Public
- Member New Firehouse Committee.
- Member New Senior Center Committee.
- Democratic Candidate for the Massachusetts House, 20th Middlesex
- Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee.
- Provided free architectural design services to the Cambridge Public
- Morse School Council
- Board member, Mount Auburn Neighborhood Association.
ON THE ISSUES
Quality of Life:
This is a broad category which varies considerably from individual to
individual. I can only speak for myself, but I need a good night's sleep,
a full stomach, and a walk outside to feel like life is pretty good. If I
can share that with others, even better. Shared with friends and family is
the best. Government works best when it makes sure everyone has the
opportunity to pursue a good life.
Rats and cockroaches, pigeons and bed bugs, seagulls and ants, if there
are enough humans gathered in one place they will come, as they have for
centuries. Government can make sure that the public is educated about the
reasons for infestation and how to keep the populations in check without
poisoning ourselves. It can also remind both landlords and tenants of
their responsibilities, and keep neighbors from just passing the problem
Everyone, even in the city, deserves a good night's sleep and peaceful
enjoyment of their day. There are measurable limits to noise (and light)
pollution which contribute strongly to most people's quality of life. The
city has a pretty good noise ordinance (and needs a better light
ordinance) which must be enforced.
The Cambridge Police and Fire Departments have always been there when I've
called. I feel safe in Cambridge. Everyone should feel this way and we
have a serious problem as a community if they do not.
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
I live on a very busy street, one of the main arteries into the heart of
our city. Traffic and parking are constant problems. I am fortunate to
have a good, dependable bus line running down my street. The design of our
streets and sidewalks should make it easy for motorists, bicyclers, and
pedestrians to be considerate of one another. Enforcement is overwhelmed
at times by the pressure to be inconsiderate (Examples: Inadequate parking
spaces for commercial activity or new residences, it's cheaper, faster,
and easier to take a car instead of a bus, it's hazardous to walk on
poorly maintained public sidewalks, etc, etc.)
We can help each other by being more considerate. Individual action goes a
long way to help everyone. Only the city can look at these problems as a
whole and design the public ways well, maintain them in good shape, and
coordinate with other cities, towns, and the state to improve the ways we
Our government must be run by competent, professionals who use our money
wisely, keep the policy makers well- informed of the real costs of their
policy decisions, and maintain absolute honesty and integrity as keepers
of the public's assets.
Every year, when I review the budget, I will start at zero for every
program, understand the purpose of the policy which created the program,
the effectiveness of the program, and the long-term costs of the program.
Assessment are straightforward and well-established mathematical
constructs. Property owners deserve fair and impartial evaluation of their
The Council must be careful to recognize unexpected consequences of tax
policy on the city's property owners and be willing to make sure that
everyone pays their fair share.
Plan E Charter:
The strong City Council and strong City Manager system under the Plan E
Charter has served Cambridge well for almost 70 years. Still, a regular
review of our Charter is desirable and necessary as time goes on and the
The best way ever conceived to insure that a government represents the
voters, I would not change it. But it works best when everyone votes and
that is an area that needs improvement. We must do a better job of
encouraging all Cambridge residents to vote and removing the obstacles
which keep voters away.
The City Manager should be an experienced professional manager. The City
Council manages the Manager, the Manager manages the City. If the City is
unresponsive to it's residents, it is the City Council who is responsible.
Staff for Councillors:
Everyone can use a little help, but I'm concerned if the expertise of the
paid City employees and volunteer citizen boards isn't adequate or
available for the City Council. It may be pointing to a larger problem.
Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
I am an architect and a former Planning Board member (Reading, MA) who has
developed Master Plans, worked with regional planning authorities, created
Zoning law, and helped clients in a dozen cities and towns from Boston and
Cambridge to Hingham and Andover navigate land use, planning, and zoning
issues. I know what the words of a Zoning Law look like when made into
real developments. I am a big supporter of mixed-use zoning and incentives
for extra open space and affordable housing. That is, whenever possible,
keep a healthy mix of residential, office, open space, and commercial
properties. A proper mix saves energy, reduces crime, and improves
everyone's quality of life.
Economic Development and Commerce:
These are essential to the fiscal health and livability of our city. There
are costs which need mitigation (traffic, noise, pollution, urban
wildlife, etc.), but the benefits (jobs, tax revenue) are enormous to
Human Services Programs:
It is often necessary, but always inadequate, for Government to provide
aid to those who need immediate attention. Government must be able to
extend a helping hand. But like fire codes reduce fires, and traffic
lights reduce accidents, the City must also adopt policies with the goal
of encouraging healthy families, strong neighborhoods, and personal
Pools, youth centers, ice rinks, skateboard parks, etc. are all good.
Opportunities for young adults to serve others while swimming, playing,
skating, and skating are even better. I support community service in all
With a large percentage of the population under 30, it's hard not to feel
young in Cambridge. A good meal, health care programs, and most
importantly, a chance to share a long life with others will keep you
young. Community service opportunities shouldn't stop at 30, either.
Open Space and Parks:
Cambridge is fortunate to have some great public open spaces, the Charles
River and numerous private open spaces open to the public. When seen from
space, the City is noticeably greener than the surrounding towns. Open
space is the great equalizer, anyone can enjoy it. It's important to keep
it green, litter-free, and encourage open space growth.
All work and no play makes Cambridge a dull city.
Energy & Environment:
The City can best lead by example and be ready with appropriate Zoning Law
to encourage others to follow. The United States is far behind Europe and
Asia with the use of fossil-fuel alternatives. Harvard and MIT can be the
World leaders in providing new technologies. Cambridge should be the lab
for MIT and Harvard's best energy and conservation technologies.
I support smoking bans, and the right of the public to know what they're
eating and drinking.
Cambridge has some of the best affordable housing opportunities in the
Boston metropolitan area. I would keep it that way.
Sharing ourselves through art is a leading indicator of our humanity.
I prefer pot-luck, the City should provide the room and have revelers to
bring the food, drink, and celebration. And thanks for cleaning up, too.
Town and gown are just like a family in the same house. We have to care
about one another, even if we have different needs and personalities.
Declining participation will be the death of Cambridge. opportunities to
participate in keeping our City alive and healthy should be positive and
pleasant. No one should given an excuse to avoid it.
Cambridge Public Schools: The School Committee is the elected
body which sets policy for the Public Schools. I will remember that as a
City Councillor. I know all the members and they know me. I will always be
willing to pass a concern along in private and, if asked by the School
Committee, speak up in public.
More details daily at: www.tomstohlman.org
9, 2009 Candidate Forum (video)