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Background and Experience in Public Service
As someone who has always been drawn to public service, it has been a tremendous honor and a privilege to serve on the City Council over the past dozen years. I was born and raised in Cambridge, I raised my own family here, and I have spent my entire adult life working to give something back to my community.
My service began 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 held a seat on the City Council. For the 2008-2009 term, I was also honored to serve as Mayor of Cambridge. The past decade has been a time of great challenges and tremendous opportunities, and I have worked hard with my colleagues and with the community at large to improve upon an already amazing city. Together, we have accomplished many great things – and the work is far from over.
In addition to my work on the City Council, I am also a small business owner, a Justice of the Peace, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. My ties to Cambridge run deep, as does my commitment to public service.
I firmly believe that the City Council must continue looking at policies that promote creating more affordable units, and I have introduced policy orders asking the City to review and possibly modify our current zoning policies governing how many new units must be included with each new project. The current formula that mandates all new apartment buildings must include 15 percent affordable units no longer appears to be adequate. I believe we can do better, and we must do more to prevent our lower and middle-income people from being priced out of our city.
The City Council must also continue working to maintain reasonable development. The K2C2 discussions have provided us with a good framework for reviewing the various needs of those most directly impacted by development in Central Square and Kendall Square, but I would like to see greater, more comprehensive discussions about responsible development across the City. I have pushed for the creation of a map that would provide all of us – City Councilors and members of the public alike – with an at-a-glance overview of all current development and projected development over the next five years, to hopefully prevent us from over-saturating any one area with construction. I would also like to see a comprehensive traffic impact study conducted for the entire city, and this is something I am actively working on bringing forth right now.
In terms of the economy, I remain committed to fostering a more vibrant, more robust local economy. I want to offer greater support for small local business owners, which is why I would like to sponsor a Small Business Owners Town Hall in the next term. This will enable small local business owners to speak directly to the City Council and the administration about their needs, their concerns, their ideas – and it will give us all a chance to establish stronger relationships with one another.
I would also like to strengthen our local job training and job placement programs. In the past term, I have 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. I will continue to push the City to adopt a formal Community Benefits and Mitigation Plan, which would include funding commitments for these types of job training and placement programs. I recognize that by fostering a better climate for local businesses, and by giving more people access to quality jobs, our City can only be strengthened.
My third top priority would be to continue my work around Civic Unity. As chair of the Civic Unity Committee, I have been leading my colleagues on the Council, the City's administrators, and the public through some difficult, but very 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.
Of course, I also remain firmly committed to many other areas, such as increasing public safety, ensuring that the working women and men of Cambridge are being treated fairly by employers in the community, providing top-notch service to my constituents, ensuring that all children have access to a high-quality education, and ensuring that seniors have access to fully-funded senior centers and reliable public transportation.
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
During this past term, I have also reached out to the MBTA on multiple occasions on behalf of our residents when concerns have been brought to my attention, such as when the MBTA announced the elimination and consolidation of several bus stops in Cambridge. I have worked to bring important information about this and other developments to our senior citizens, and I have likewise relayed their concerns directly to MBTA officials. I will continue to work to mitigate these kinds of issues, and to help our seniors find workable resolutions, as these situations arise.
In recent years, I have also worked with the MBTA and local taxi companies to provide better transportation options for seniors and others with mobility issues. This has resulted in 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.
I will, of course, also continue meeting with individuals who have specific traffic and parking issues, and I will work to resolve these matters as they come to my attention.
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
I have also been open to holding discussions about plans to renovate all or part of Magazine Beach, and I have voted in favor of funding for stabilizing the Powder Magazine in that area. 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.
I will, of course, continue to ask pertinent questions during our public hearings whenever a situation arises in which it is unclear how our money is being spent, or if it is being spent wisely. To do otherwise would be an abdication of one of my most important duties as a city councilor.
Quality of Life and Public Safety
In recent weeks, I have successfully introduced a policy order asking the City to establish an Emergency Information Telephone Hotline, which residents will be able to call in the wake of any future emergencies. The City has made great strides in recent years of broadcasting important information to people, setting up Facebook and Twitter alerts, posting information on the City's homepage and on individual department pages – but not everyone is computer savvy, and not everyone is online or has a smart phone. Creating a dedicated phone number that people can call at any time for timely information during an emergency is going to help get important information to more people going forward, and it will bring greater peace of mind to a greater number of people.
I am always out in the community, attending neighborhood meetings when I haven't organized my own. I am a regular presence in neighborhoods and apartment complexes around the city, and by maintaining solid relationships with people throughout the community, I have a better sense of what peoples' concerns are, and a better idea of how I can be of service on the City Council. Ultimately, this work is most effective when we all collaborate, share information with one another, and continue speaking even in the absence of immediate problems. Being proactive is always preferable to being reactive.
Public safety touches upon more than just the absence of criminal activity, of course. I have also worked to improve the safety of our streets for senior citizens and those with limited mobility by initiating the posting of "Slow, Seniors" signs at intersections with heavy traffic. And I have supported the effort to lower the rodent population by requiring citizens to use covered, rodent-proof trash cans, along with high-tech solar trash receptacles in several parks and squares that have had high rodent populations.
I also continue looking for ways to bring more voices into the community discussions inside City Hall. Whether it is holding Senior Town Hall meetings, LGBT Town Hall meetings, holding walk-in office hours that allow constituents to just come in and seek advice or assistance on whatever is most pressing, I want people to view City Hall as a welcoming and inviting building. I continually seek feedback from the community, I continually want to hear from people from all corners of the community. I am not content to sit back and assume that the system we have in place is sufficient; I feel it is important to continually reach out to people – in person and online – to learn what areas the City Council and the administration could be doing a better job in.
As I stated previously, I will absolutely be looking to preserve and expand the stock of affordable housing in Cambridge, and I am mindful of the fact that the various social service programs across the City, which provide essential services, are perpetually underfunded. 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 continual basis, reaching out to the 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
The Next City Manager
Mr. Rossi has agreed to stay on at City Manager for a three-year period. I am mindful of the fact that, in addition to working productively with him during this time, the City Council must also take proactive steps to prepare for the future. We must start holding community discussions to determine what qualities will be most needed in the next city manager. I want the City Council to reach a firm and shared understanding of the qualities we will be looking for. I want the City Council to have a clear and shared understanding of what the process for finding Mr. Rossi's successor will look like, and most of all, I want the people of Cambridge to have full confidence in this process. That is why we must start taking these steps in 2014.
Again, there are many, many challenges awaiting the next City Council – and many, many opportunities. I bring experience, passion, and leadership to my role as a city councilor, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to continue to serve. Thank you, I hope you will sign up for my Facebook and Twitter feeds to keep track of my daily activities, and I hope you will consider giving me your #1 Vote on November 5.
CCTV candidate video (2011)
|Page last updated Saturday, September 28, 2013 7:36 PM||Cambridge Candidates|