Denise Simmons for City Council, 2013
Denise Simmons, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, is serving her sixth term on the City Council, 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.
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
Simmons’ top three priorities:
From the Cambridge Residents Alliance
These issues each have a tremendous impact upon every other issue facing the people of Cambridge now and in the coming years. We must do more to attract solid, living-wage jobs to this city at all skill levels, and we need to invest more in job-training programs. We also must work to preserve and expand the stock of quality affordable housing. Lastly, with all the development occurring in Cambridge we must ensure that we move forward in a way that balances adequately the needs of the developers with the needs of the residents, the neighborhoods and the environment. This includes working to ensure that we are not creating nightmarish traffic situations.
Social equality initiatives may also tend to inspire greater youth development, particularly among disaffected members of minority groups who feel they do not in fact have a meaningful stake in the city’s planning and development. This can in turn lead to a rise in levels of educational performance and civic engagement that consequently raise quality of life standards citywide.
Greater economic mobility can also make city housing more accessible to residents for whom stable housing was kept beyond their reach due to their limited means.
On local business:
Condensed and edited from responses given to Cambridge Local First
With local businesses thriving, more people are employed, the city’s economic health is greater and our sense of community is strengthened.
One of the most important things city government can do to support local business is to foster relationships and make certain City Hall has an open-door policy. I never underestimate the power of having the ability to listen! Certainly, by establishing solid relationships with the local business associations and Chamber of Commerce the city can get a good sense of how different policies are affecting local business. On a smaller scale, it is important for the individual councillors to have solid relationships with the various associations so people can feel encouraged to pick up the phone and check in – not just when there are problems, not just when it’s election season, but at any time.
I would like to revisit some of the initiatives I championed when I first entered the City Council, which were successful and could make a positive impact. Certainly something such as Buy Cambridge could be worth convening again, since enough time has passed that there are many new businesses and business owners that did not get to take part initially.
I have launched Senior Town Halls and LGBT Town Halls during which these communities would come in, brainstorm and report directly to city administrators – their chance to speak to help set the agenda rather than being spoken to. A Local Business Owners Town Hall might be worth pursuing in the next term.
Simmons on the issues
From Cambridge Community Television
The Foundry building: