Tim Toomey for City Council, 2015
Tim Toomey serves as state representative for the 26th Middlesex District, which includes Eastern portions of Somerville and Cambridge, and as a Cambridge city councillor. He was born in Cambridge, raised in East Cambridge and lives on Sixth Street. He is a graduate of Matignon High School and earned a degree in government from Suffolk University in 1975.
He was elected to the Cambridge School Committee in 1985, then to the council in 1989. In 1992, he was elected as state representative.
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources
Toomey is running with the Unity Slate with fellow council incumbents Dennis Benzan, Leland Cheung, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Marc McGovern and E. Denise Simmons.
Ward 6 Democrats endorsement?
The Ward 6 Democrats endorsed nine council candidates this year, choosing only from among registered Democrats and saying it “sought to recommend candidates who would bring the vision, skills and experience most needed to govern Cambridge at this time, regardless of slate affiliation.”
Score from ABC:
The residents group A Better Cambridge rated 19 out of 22 candidates for City Council (all who responded to a comprehensive questionnaire) measuring their level of agreement with the group’s “smart growth” platform of development- and transit-focused priorities and goals. In the words of the group, “higher-rated candidates demonstrate a strong understanding of the complex housing and development challenges facing Cambridge [and] are best prepared to make Cambridge a more affordable and livable city for all residents, especially low-income families.” There is a maximum score of 45 points.
The Cambridge Residents Alliance endorsed five council candidates this year. The residents group is focused on development and housing affordability issues and opposes projects it feels will gentrify neighborhoods or add to traffic and transit congestion. Its endorsed candidates were those it felt would “allow real planning”; refused campaign donations from “large developers”; and vowed to work for a citywide development master plan that prevented “overdevelopment and displacement.”
In his own words, Toomey “has dedicated much of his life to public service … he has been an outspoken advocate for affordable housing and smart, community-based policing. Tim continues to focus on serving the public by being open, accessible and by providing outstanding constituent services.”
Fair enough. Toomey also plays by his own rules, which can look extremely inconsistent and sometimes cross the line into hypocrisy.
New voters may puzzle over his frequent use of his council “charter right” to take an issue out of consideration until the next council meeting, such as his most recent use: knocking out fellow councillor Nadeem Mazen’s move to let the public see a “roundtable” meeting about a citywide development master plan process, saying he’d somehow never heard of the concept and that the vote was, essentially, too confusing and “political” to deal with.
His use of the “reconsideration” maneuver to revote an issue or keep an issue from being revoted can also be confusing: In March he used it to “move things along” by blocking potential revotes – coincidentally, it could be said, after an issue he voted against, because he denied there was a connection – and said he would “try to” keep moving things along with reconsideration votes after every meeting. But he hasn’t, and instead used his right to call for revote himself just a couple of meetings later. Then he did it again in August.
Toomey doesn’t always explain why he does these things, even when asked directly, but he has said he thinks “the city is very transparent in everything we do” and doesn’t need to do much more, which could help explain why he blocked the recording and broadcast of that citywide development master plan roundtable. He tends to wield these tools politically, although he is very unhappy when he perceives someone else “politicizing” an issue – which is, again, exactly the charge wielded against Mazen for trying to be transparent about the master plan roundtable.
It was actually the master plan that was the perhaps temporary victim of Toomey’s most recent use of the “charter right.” By removing a vote for $3.3 million in funding for a master plan consultant, the city went into the roundtable with no contract signed. (Toomey should want a master plan; it might help make the distribution of affordable housing throughout the city more equitable, and Toomey complains frequently that too much of it is placed in his East Cambridge neighborhood and too little elsewhere. He has made it clear he doesn’t trust the process – or the assurances of the city manager, apparently.)
Even in a city with net certified free cash in the coming fiscal year of $175.9 million,Toomey is very worried the three-year, $3.3 million master plan will grow to cost $6 million. He hasn’t explained where that figure comes from.
Just to put the figure in context, he has defended the city battling a civil rights lawsuit about racial discrimination and retaliation through a years-long legal battle and losing series of appeals, and that ultimately cost the city some $11.3 million.