Larry Ward

Larry Ward
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
372 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-440-7661

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Larry Ward
PO Box 390961
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I have lived in the same house for 20 years where I have raised three wonderful daughters: Nina, a CRLS and Bowdoin College graduate; Vanessa, a CRLS graduate and student at UMass Boston; and Angela, an eighth grader at Shady Hill. Four years ago I moved my 91-year-old dad in with me. In my two decades of living in Cambridge, I have become passionate about this city, its people, its neighborhoods, and the opportunity to build a model world-class community. Cambridge is a great place, but I know that by working together, we can make it a better place to live, learn, work, and play.

Doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling, Boston University
Masters of Arts in Education, University of Maryland
Bachelor of Arts in Counseling, Boston University
Massachusetts Licensed Guidance Counselor

Professional & Community Activities:

  • Counseled individuals with psychiatric disabilities and advised on career goals.
  • Taught at BU's Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.
  • Served as a board member on various non-profit organizations.
  • Taught in the Cambridge Public School System.
  • Set up community computer labs at 808 Memorial Drive, in affordable housing complexes and provided IT training to individuals and non-profit groups.

Helping kids develop into tomorrow's leaders, reading, playing basketball and pool, and volunteering for Cambridge Youth Soccer.

Top Priorities:

  • Keep Cambridge Family-Friendly.
  • Ensure families can continue to live and thrive in Cambridge.
  • Protect existing public and private housing stock.
  • Promote youth employment and training opportunities.
  • Develop local public transportation tailored to local needs.
  • Foster economic growth that collaborates with neighborhood and community interests.
  • Invest in our schools with a robust budget.
  • Oversee after-school programs that deepen and enhance educational opportunities for students, teachers, and families.
  • Lead an effort to ensure higher levels of cooperation and assistances from Cambridge colleges and universities.

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Maintaining the quality of life in Cambridge during these economic uncertainties will be one of the biggest challenges for the city council. I am committed to keeping Cambridge economically viable for families, businesses, students, educators, and all walks of life. At the same time, I will work constructively with the city manager, my colleagues, and the new superintendent to secure the resources to fund important programs at some of the lowest tax rates throughout the state. Its fiscal management is superior and its disciplined investment provides the type of services that make Cambridge's quality of life enjoyable.

On public safety, I am a strong believer in neighborhood policing, which includes neighbors knowing neighbors and foot patrol policing, and I live by these words. I am actively and routinely walk the neighborhoods, checking in on kids and families. I have walked the neighborhoods with our public safety officials and have led on addressing issues of crime and violence.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
It would be great if we all depended more on walking, biking, and public transportation. I would like to see a local bus system available throughout Cambridge neighborhoods that would allow more independence for all residents. It would be integrated with the MBTA, but would be based on movement through Cambridge, and not just the MBTA patterns for the greater Boston area. As such, it would be focused on the needs of our citizens. Alexandria, VA, has established a city system that works in conjunction with the Washington, DC Mass Transit system, and we should see if it is possible here. Students would be less car dependent for getting to and from school activities, and seniors could remain more independent. In addition, a local bus system would go a long way in terms of reducing parking concerns and short distance driving.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
While Cambridge has one of the lowest residential tax rates in the Commonwealth, it is a challenge to maintain quality services and reasonable taxes. Given our ability to maintain a triple A bond rating and healthy financial reserves, it can be done, but future needs surely will stretch our financial resources. It is vital that we stay focused on those needs that continue to make Cambridge a livable city: education, transportation, safety, recreation, and access to all city services, while being transparent and vigilant with every dollar spent.

Government and Elections:
History has taught me to support the Plan E Charter. It wasn't too long ago that Cambridge reflected bad government in its worst forms. Corruption, cronyism, and political patronage characterized the Cambridge government UNTIL the city switched to a Plan E form of government. The Plan E form of government removed the power of a strong mayoral system which removed politics from the management of the city. As a result, Cambridge has a triple A bond rating, superior to many of its neighboring municipalities, earning it praise and envy from municipalities throughout the U.S.

But, the Plan E form of government didn't do it alone. Cambridge has an effective city manager in Bob Healy, who has done a tremendous job for this city. Today, Cambridge is recognized nationally as a well-managed city both from a financial and services perspective. Bob Healy is the person most responsible for that.

It's unclear if Mr. Healy will seek another contract as city manager. If he does not, the City Council needs to have a thought out action plan. The most important function of the City Council is selecting the city manager, and we must be clear on our priorities and requirements without writing a 100-page job description. The city should hire a search firm with a proven record to assist us with the task of selecting a new city manager. The search firm should select candidates that are competent in all aspects of government and public works. In addition, the search firm should seek candidates with experience demonstrating their fairness in administering and protecting the policies of the city. The candidates should possess management experience in a city of comparable size to Cambridge and must demonstrate capability and commitment to managing a diverse and dynamic community. Candidates ought to have experience directing substantial budget responsibilities, and the proven ability to assemble and manage the most talented team.

Land Use, Planning, and Economic Development:
Cambridge must balance growth with existing resources. We have to be mindful of maintaining our history while function in the 21st century. We are a community first and planning must be done with the people who live within neighborhoods in mind.

The guiding principle for all residential development is and should be to adhere to current zoning codes. A great deal of planning by many individuals as well as city departments has gone into current zoning layout. Even with that, our process allows for residents to petition to change zoning at any time. It would be both difficult and short sided to pre-determine zoning before balancing the needs of the city and the will of the residents as related to a specific request. Residential development in all Cambridge should reflect input from the community and neighborhood groups and should follow community standards and zoning of those particular areas. Development needs to be balanced, and determined on a case by case basis.

Human Services Programs:
Before I joined the City Council, I founded and published Human Services Connection (HSC) magazine, which focused on the human service community. In addition, I organized a human services forum hosted by Michael Dukakis during the 2006 Democratic National Convention. It is suffice to say that I am committed to human service programs.

I am proud that Cambridge is a leader in providing human services programs ranging from childcare and after school programs to a user-friendly senior center. We have to constantly evaluate and monitor programs for their effectiveness. As our city changes, so too will the human service program needs. I have spent my adult life focusing on providing quality human services, and understand fundamentally the costs and benefits of providing high quality service.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
We are fortunate to live in a city with many quality parks and recreational opportunities. We have to utilize our ingenuity to make sure project designs are very mindful of open space issues. It is difficult for all of us to balance wanting open space with wanting more affordable housing given the physical density of our city, but a city without green space and open parks isn't supporting its citizens.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
The Cambridge Health Alliance was created to provide healthcare within neighborhoods, which is a great concept. Lack of city involvement has led to limiting services in certain areas that reduce the quality of life for the very people it was set up to service. It is time we think about increasing our involvement to ensure quality health services for all.

Regarding the discussion on "affordable housing" I continue to ask the question: Affordable to whom? Cambridge has one of the largest stocks of "affordable housing" in the Commonwealth. And yet, we don't have enough housing opportunities because those who want to live in Cambridge can't afford it. The inclusionary zone ordinance is an effective way to increase the number of affordable housing units. Essentially, developers must reserve a certain percentage of their units for those with lower and moderate incomes. However, we may need to increase the percentages to increase the number of affordable units. We also may need to devise incentive programs that allow homeowners to sell their properties to diverse populations who want to stay in Cambridge without losing out on market pricing. As a city with a triple A bond rating, we are in a financial position that better allows us to think outside of the box in order to be more inclusive.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge is noted for its diverse and colorful celebrations. As a city, we should continue to seek out opportunities to bring people together and celebrate!

University Relations:
The universities need the city and they also are good for the city. Our goal should be to increase the connections between both parties in ways that are mutually beneficial. One major concern is to increase the transparency of the relationship between the city and the universities.

Civic Participation:
It is a wonderful feeling to help others just for the pure joy that helping others brings. As a community, we are responsible for each other. If we want citizens to participate, we need to build in volunteer opportunities beginning when kids enter school and it should never stop.

Cambridge Public Schools:
Our youth are the heart and soul of the city. As the debate rages on regarding "closing the achievement gap", the most critical piece to closing the gap is prenatal care and early childhood education. Those issues must be seriously addressed so that students are "ready" to learn. We must remain focused on the quality of education we provide. Focusing too much on standardized testing hinders students' ability to learn in the many diverse ways they are capable of and limits the creativity of both students and teachers. I was a statewide coordinator of the Massachusetts Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education and helped organize thousands of parents, teachers, and students throughout the Commonwealth in an ongoing effort to reform MCAS testing and alleviate its most damaging effects. I will continue my efforts to deepen and enhance educational opportunities for students, teachers, and families.

Why Larry Ward?
I am a long-time Cambridge resident (20+ years) with a history of leadership in the public school system, in the small business community, in nurturing and developing youth, and in fighting for equity in all spheres of city life.

As a Professional Counselor committed to social services, I bring a firsthand understanding of the services needed to make our city work, and I bring the listening skills necessary to respond to concerns of its citizens.

As a substitute teacher at CRLS, a parent of CRLS graduates, and an advocate for school reform, I know the concerns parents face and the challenges of Cambridge Public Schools.

As a computer specialist, I understand and embrace how technology can improve city management and the community's quality of life issues.

As a volunteer with Cambridge Youth Soccer, Youth Basketball and Peace Commission, I know what volunteerism can achieve.

As an entrepreneur, I have realistic assessments of the difficulties in starting and growing a business in Cambridge.

As a parent in an interracial family, with an elderly live-in father, I have a unique perspective on race and class issues.

As a city councilor for running for re-election and I am asking for your number one vote on November 3rd. Please visit ( to learn more about me.

In February 2009, I joined the City Council after Brian Murphy resigned. In my brief term on the Council I have led and achieved positive results.

  • Chaired meetings on the University Relations Committee in response to University hiring & firing practices.
  • Is formulating long-term strategy for Town and Gown relationships.
  • Organized meetings between Porter Square neighbors and Lesley University officials on the rezoning for the Arts Institute of Boston.
  • Injected civility into Council debates, including the Monteiro lawsuit against the city.
  • Provided outreach into North Cambridge community regarding recent crime and violence.
  • Successfully mediated neighborhood concerns regarding curb cuts and parking, and introduced a council order to increase and secure residential parking in East Cambridge.
  • Actively participated in community events such as 14 out of 15 school graduations, Hoops for Health, Cambridge Senior Picnic, and Old Time Baseball
  • Introduced resolutions highlighting the activities and achievements of our youth.
  • Collaborated with State Senator Galluccio to extend the DCR pool season.
  • Actively and constructively engaged public safety officials on the Gates-Crowley issue.

Candidate's 2007 responses

CCTV candidate video 

Page last updated October 03, 2009 Cambridge Candidates