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Background and Experience in Public Service
I am a proud wife, a mother, a grandmother, a small business owner, and public service is something that is just ingrained in me. I grew up in this community, and I care very much about what kind of Cambridge we will be leaving to our grandchildren, and to our grandchildren's children. That is what first led me toward public service, when I served as Executive Director of the Civic Unity Committee in the 1980s. In the 1990s, I served on the School Committee, and, since 2002, I have been honored to hold a seat on the City Council.
Cambridge has undergone significant changes, and faced great challenges, over the past two decades. We are a community that is imbued with a deep, rich history, yet we are also evolving toward a future in which our biotech sector is drawing the greatest minds from all over the planet. Our challenge now is to determine how to strike the appropriate balance in preserving our rich history – and holding on to the families that have been so essential to our character for generations – while acknowledging that all healthy cities grow, change, and evoolve with the times. I very much wish to continue tackling these challenges head on, with my colleagues on the Council and with people throughout the community. Together, we have already accomplished many great things – and the work is faar from over.
The City Council must also continue working to maintain reasonable development. I have joined my colleagues in trying to find ways to implement the K2C2 recommendations, which provided us with a good framework for how to best reinvigorate Central Square and Kendall Square. Last term, I sought to move us closer to this objective by supporting the Normandy-Twining project which will bring 60 new affordable units to Central Square; this term, I successfully led the City to take the blighted, vacant Vail Court by eminent domain so that we can develop affordable housing in this prime location.
I have also helped numerous constituents navigate through the housing search process over the years. I have learned many important things about this process just by virtue of doing the work so often, and that is why I have compiled a list of important items to know and released an Affordable Housing Search Guide for people throughout the City, which is available on the Mayor's website. This housing search guide has links to the various housing agencies in Cambridge and Greater Boston, contact information for housing and legal advocates, and lists of important questions to ask during the process of signing up for housing. I strongly encourage anyone who is at any stage of the housing search to download this guide, or to contact my office for a copy.
During this term, I held Cambridge Small Business Week networking events in 2016 and 2017 at Le Meridien-MIT to highlight some of our unsung small businesses, to recognize the wonderful flavor they each bring to this community, and to bring our business community together for a nice evening of mixing, mingling, and networking. I am already looking forward to growing this event in 2018 and beyond.
I have also been working to strengthen our local job training and job placement programs. I worked to bring officials from Cambridge and Boston together, to help establish links between our Office of Workforce Development and Boston's "Building Pathways" program, which is a fantastic entryway into the local building trades. I also worked with the City Manager to implement a strong Wage Theft executive order, which is protecting our most vulnerable employees from having unscrupulous employees cheat them out of wages earned.
Last but certainly not least, this term I convened experts from the worlds of business, academia, and government to form a Women's Pay Equity Committee to help ensure that women working for and in the City of Cambridge are paid comparable to what their male colleagues are making, and that women have the same advancement opportunities as men. Furthermore, we have been able to entice over two dozen (and counting) "Early Adopters" for the Wage Equity law that will be going into effect statewide in the summer of 2018.
I have been leading my colleagues on the Council, the City's administrators, and the public through some difficult, but important, discussions about best employment practices and policies. We have discussed areas where the City has not done a good enough job in the past, and areas where we must work to improve in the future. Cambridge prides itself in being a beacon of tolerance and a community that draws strength from its great diversity. The City, as an employer, must also adhere to those ideals, and I certainly hope to be leading these most important discussions and meetings in the coming year.
This term, I have also held a number of Town Hall meetings, focusing on everything from the LGBTQ Community in the Age of Trump, to a forum for Tenants in Cambridge, to a forum on the intersection of Race, Class, Gender, and Cultural Identity in the City. These have all been energetic and thought-provoking discussions in which the citizens of Cambridge came in and spoke their minds, informing City leaders about ways in which we can and must be more sensitive, more inclusive, and more responsive to their concerns. I have consistently looked for ways to help bring more people to the table to get involved, be more engaged, and to be heard in the conversations that shape our community, and the Town Hall meetings continue to be a fantastic forum for this.
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation
I have also convened an ongoing discussion between transportation officials and City planners from Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and our neighboring communities so that we can better share information about regional transit issues that impact us all. These conversations are intended to help us all make wiser decisions, and to work with our neighbors, in dealing with what is truly a regional concern.
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
I have also been party to ongoing discussions about plans to renovate all or part of Magazine Beach, and I have voted in favor of funding for stabilizing the Powder House there. I recognize the importance of open space, of families having a place to get away from the pressures and stress of the City – even when they cannot actually, physically, leave the City. I will continue to work with all interested parties in seeing how we can preserve the open space that we currently have, and how to best utilize that for all.
However, we do know that Central Square, in particular, continues to be an ongoing concern in terms of panhandling, public intoxication, and pockets of violence occasionally erupting. This is why I have been pushing the City to establish a permanent Cambridge Police substation in or near Carl Barron Plaza, as I and many others believe the more visible police presence could work to deter criminal activity and other undesirable behavior. I remain frustrated that the City has not yet followed through on this action, even though the City Council has voted in favor of it, and I will not stop pushing for this until we see this police outpost established.
I am also mindful of the fact that the various social service programs across the City, which provide essential services, are perpetually underfunded (and I was proud to lead the charge in urging the City to help fund Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services, which is so critical to providing legal assistance to many of our most vulnerable residents). We must continue offering services to the most fragile members of our community, and that means supporting these important programs as much as possible. We have some extraordinary social services providers in Cambridge, and we must also recognize the extraordinary work that our Cambridge Police patrol officers in Central Square and Harvard Square do on a regular basis, reaching out to chronically homeless individuals in an effort to connect them with the appropriate social services.
My Vision of Central Square Over The Coming Decade
I do believe that, ultimately, Central Square is undergoing an exciting period of change and evolution. There is a vibrancy and excitement to this neighborhood that is unlike any other part of Cambridge, and I think that vibrancy is only going to flourish in the years to come. I am excited to see how Central Square will continue to evolve, and I am committed to making sure that the developers, the longtime residents, the existing business owners, and the newer people who come in to the area are all regularly meeting, sharing information, fostering relationships, and working together to make Central Square a place we can all take ownership of.
Children and Public Education
In addition to the offerings at our public schools, there are also numerous extra-curricular activities in Cambridge designed to cultivate young minds. One of my proudest achievements has been growing the Girls Only Leadership Development Program, which I started during my first term as Mayor and which has steadily grown through my collaboration with the YWCA Cambridge. The GOLD Program is a bi-monthly program which teaches life and leadership skills to help guide participants on a path toward future success. This program is free for 8th grade girls from across Cambridge, who meet and learn from a diverse cast of strong, local female business, political, and civic leaders. Meeting topics for the program included high school and college preparation; preparing for different career paths; learning proper social etiquette for formal settings; learning about appropriate online and smartphone etiquette; dressing for success; and learning about the benefits of civic engagement and the importance of networking.
I thank everyone for reading this page and educating yourselves on the issues in this election. I also invite you to follow my daily activity on Facebook (Denise Simmons) and Twitter (@E_DeniseSimmons), and again, I am humbly asking for your #1 Vote on Tuesday, November 7.
MAYOR E. DENISE SIMMONS ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR RE-ELECTION
On Thursday, July 13, Mayor E. Denise Simmons will officially kick off her campaign for re-election to the Cambridge City Council. The event, which shall be held at WeWork (located at 625 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge) from 6pm – 8pm, is being sponsored by a number of prominent public servants, including Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, Congressman Mike Capuano, State Senator Sal DiDomenico, State Senator Jay Livingstone, former Mayor Henrietta Davis, and former Vice Mayor Sam Seidel, among others. Mayor Simmons is currently serving her second term as Mayor, and her 8th term on the City Council, and she states that her passion for doing this work continues to keep the job fresh and exciting.
“I’ve had the honor and the privilege to serve on the City Council since 2002,” states Mayor Simmons, adding: “over the past 8 terms, I’ve learned how to truly be an effective public servant, how to help my constituents with finding employment and housing, and how to make our government more responsive and more inclusive to a greater number of people. I’ve grown so much during my time on the council, and I truly love having the opportunity to help so many people in this role.” Among the highlights of the 2015-2017 term, Mayor Simmons cites her work as Co-Chair of the Housing Committee, helping to steer the City Council toward updating the Inclusionary Ordinance to double the amount of affordable housing that must be built by developers doing business in the City.
“For almost two decades, the Inclusionary rate effectively stood at 11.5 percent, and I am proud of the fact that we have just increased that to 20 percent. This – combined with our tripling of the linkage rates that commercial developers must pay into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund – is going to make a dramatic difference increasing the amount of affordable housing in our city, and will help so many Cambridge residents who otherwise might have been forced out of their community. I am tremendously proud of the work we’ve done,” says Mayor Simmons.
Mayor Simmons also points to the tremendous collaborative effort between the City, the Red Cross, and numerous City partners in the aftermath of the devastating fire in the Wellington-Harrington Neighborhood in December 2016 as one the defining moments of this council term.
“Before the fires were even out, we had the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund online and accepting donations, and the people of Cambridge raised over $1 million to help their neighbors. I was working with the City Manager, the various Department Heads, and numerous volunteer organizations day and night at City Hall throughout December to help relocate over 150 individuals displaced by the fire, and our combined work demonstrated what this City is capable of when we pull together.”
Mayor Simmons is hoping to continue her work and advocacy for the people of Cambridge in the next term, and she looks forward to the spirited campaign season in the coming months. Those seeking more information about her work and her campaign are encouraged to visit www.DeniseSimmons.com, and to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates about her work. Her re-election kick-off is open to all.
CCTV candidate video (2017)
|Page last updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:12 PM||Cambridge Candidates|