Denise Simmons

Denise Simmons
2003 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
188 Harvard Street
Cambridge MA 02139

Contact information:

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I support all efforts to construct and preserve housing that is affordable to low and moderate income residents including:

  • Using city funds
  • Incentive zoning
  • Inclusionary zoning
  • Community preservation act
  • Rent control
  • Pressuring the state for matching funds
  • Sweat equity programs/cooperatives

Quality of Life:
The city must remain attractive for both residents and visitors. The work I am doing to bring the Democratic National Convention is just one opportunity for Cambridge tourism. We need to bring forth greater opportunities for small businesses to flourish, for example, developing incubator business opportunities, retail space under housing on Major streets, (Cambridge, Massachusetts Avenue, etc.). It is also important to support programs that will preserve a vital art, music, and performing arts community. Additional congestion and parking problems from new real estate development must be minimized.

Municipal Finance & Government:
We have an efficient city Government. We need to keep a modest rainy day fund. We need to continue to give residential exemptions to homeowners and tax commercial uses at a higher rate than residential. And, we need to develop a more readable budget document for the city and the school department.

Environment and Public Health:
I support the Cambridge Health Alliance and their programs. The Cambridge Health Alliance should be encouraged to be more aggressive in its domestic violence intervention programming. The Alliance has just hired a Domestic Violence Coordinator, however, more extensive outreach is needed-particularly in some neighborhoods where there is a greater occurrence of such violence.

Zoning changes should balance economic development with environmental needs and costs. The city should provide incentives for sustainable neighborhoods i.e. green buildings, solar panels, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Land Use, Planning, Development, and Transportation:
Increase public open space, aggressively pursue goals of the green space committee report on these issues. We must also include community gardens and make room for bicycles and pedestrians in our planning.

University Relations:
No response.

Civic participation:
We must continue to improve incentives for much greater citizen involvement: We must:

  • Keep all boards and commissions full.
  • Train citizens to participate on boards and commissions.
  • Properly staff boards and commissions.
  • Wherever possible tape proceedings of board and commission meeting.
  • Hold town meetings.
  • The City Council should periodically move the meetings around the city.
  • Increase the time limit on public comment.
  • Provide information booklets on how to participate in city government and make them available to new residents when they apply for a resident sticker or permit parking pass.

Cambridge Public Schools:
Education is the passport to opportunity. Good schools make strong citizens and ensure a stable society. The Cambridge Public Schools provide great promise but the dream of success and the promises kept are deferred for two many of our students. The Cambridge City Council has no direct influence legislatively on the school system. As a parent of school age children currently enrolled in the Cambridge Public Schools I take an active interest in education. The individual that stands in front of our children is very important. Teachers need to be supported through fair compensation, evaluation and professional development and support in the classroom. As a former School Committee member, I worked hard for the education of all students. Family Involvement is extremely important and should be encouraged through the School Council, Open houses and a strong school/home connection. Children of color and poor children can no longer be allowed to fail in such large numbers the achievement gap must not just be narrowed, it must be closed. As the only individual currently serving on the City Council with long-term and recent experience with the schools, I am a skilled, experienced decision-maker on education issues.

Democracy is government for and by the people. I will bring groups together from all parts of the Cambridge community to work and to have a city where we can all live and thrive.

Cambridge Candidates