E. Denise Simmons, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, has been on the City Council since 2002 after starting civic life as executive director of the Cambridge Civic Unity Committee in the 1980s, then serving on the School Committee in the 1990s. In her 2008-09 term she drew national attention as the nation’s first black, openly lesbian mayor. She has been serving another term as mayor in the current term.
In addition to her work on the council, Simmons owns a small insurance business just outside of Central Square. She and her wife, Mattie Hayes, live with her grandchildren in the Central Square area.
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources.
Top three priorities:
Issues that affect senior citizens
Issues of fairness, equity, diversity and tolerance
A Better Cambridge: “E. Denise Simmons may be famous for being the nation’s first black, openly lesbian mayor, but here in Cambridge, residents know her to be among the most effective and accessible leaders in the city. She’s fought to preserve and expand the city’s stock of affordable housing, and is a tireless advocate for environmental, public safety and diversity issues.”
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 17
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222
International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 7
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4
International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 6
Laborers International Union Local 151
Sprinkler Fitters and Apprentices Local Union 550
Greater Boston Labor Council
Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 12 Boston
Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus
Roofers and Waterproofers Local Union #33
SEIU Local 888
Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union #17
Bay State Stonewall Democrats
International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union Local No. 6
Simmons continues to be a mixed bag, on the right side of various fights yet, as a 15-year councillor, also culpable in long-term neglect of the city’s swelling real estate affordability problem. (There has been action since the previous election, in part because the issue could no longer be ignored.) As mayor, she has stepped up to represent the city well in crises ranging from last year’s Berkshire Street fire and issues such as the Trump administration’s hostility to the population’s vulnerable citizens. Yet has also been imperious and erratic – and even worse as a leader of the School Committee.
There are plenty of people in the community who admire and endorse Simmons as a leader and as a politician, and there is clearly more public service in her future. In a coming term, if not elected mayor again, Simmons could hit a happy medium and avoid the whipsawing highs and lows of the past two years.