Minka vanBeuzekom for City Council, 2013
Minka vanBeuzekom won her first term on the City Council two years ago and before that worked as managing director at the Hereditary Disease Foundation, vice president of the NemaPharm startup and as an epidemiologist at the state Department of Public Health and researcher at the MIT Cancer Center and Harvard/McLean Hospital – natural roles for a graduate in molecular biology from Wellesley College and recipient of a master’s in public health from Boston University.
She was active in the community before winning election, including serving as a Cambridge Rodent Task Force member, Cambridge Community Garden coordinator, Home Energy Efficiency Team member and as co-leader of the Area IV Neighborhood Coalition and a board member of Green Decade Cambridge.
While serving on the council, she has also been a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s policy committee; the state Department of Transportation’s Ethanol Advisory Group, the Mystic River Watershed Association and as a member of the Cambridge Democratic City Committee and vice chairwoman of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee.
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources
Council’s top achievement, in her words:
The focus on environmental issues. A few achievements: We’ve promoted more renewable energy and building efficiency by developing a rooftop solar potential map and street-level infrared heat map and by setting the stage for the community aggregation of electricity. The task force to develop a climate change resiliency and adaption plan and one-year technical task force to develop a plan to become a net-zero emissions city are accomplishments of this term. We are exploring divestment of the city’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies. We’ve installed additional public EV charging stations and expanded the Hubway bike share system. We’ve enacted a comprehensive bicycle parking ordinance and have drafted a plastic bag ban ordinance. We have promoted continually the preservation of a natural floodplain in the Alewife area and bought land outside the city to protect our public drinking water. None of these policies and actions taken by the council happens without the support and cooperation of the residents and city administration. We’ve worked well together to further our position as one of the true progressive green cities in the country.
Her contribution to it:
In 2011, I campaigned on environmental issues and the need to address climate change issues at our local level, and that is what I’ve done in my first term. I have gathered experts, read primary material, proposed legislation and participated in each of the achievements. I contributed strongly through my work as chairwoman of the Environment Committee and the Transportation, Traffic & Parking Committee.
Her own top achievement for the term:
I made the commitment to learn all I could about how this city functions. To accomplish this, I’ve taken several actions: met personally with every city department head; and attended nearly every meeting of the council’s 17 committees, not just the two I chair.
I’ve participated in a vast number of informational meetings with business and neighborhood leaders and the Planning Board, Licensing Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. I’ve listened to the concerns of residents throughout the city. Because I value the input of all stakeholders, I continue to ask questions until I am in a position to make very well informed and measured decisions. I have also supported Cambridge’s regional position by serving on the Department of Transportation’s Ethanol Advisory Group and the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Policy Committee on Municipal & Regional Administration.
VanBeuzekom’s top three priorities:
To be proactive about growth in the city – not reactive in a piecemeal fashion. I would be proactive about traffic, increased pressure on utility infrastructure and open space.
To increase the amount of renewable energy we consume in Cambridge. This will lead to more green jobs, less reliance on carbon fuels and set a model for other cities to follow.
To ensure the young get a stellar public education and the seniors get assistance they need.
On local business:
The first priority is to keep the tax rate low – and this fiscal year there will be a decrease. We should also expand the city’s economic development workshops for small businesses, enhance the building facade improvement fund, add small businesses and nonprofits to the trash and recycling city pickup routes, change zoning to require small first-floor retail spaces, increase municipal local purchase agreements, reduce energy costs for small businesses and keep energy production local by promoting solar installations.
I will ensure that any zoning changes take into account affordable retail and office space. I am also embarking on new municipal purchasing programs that will include preference for local vendors.
VanBeuzekom on the issues