Friday, April 12, 2024




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:

bullet-gray-small Affordable housing
bullet-gray-smallIssues that affect senior citizens
bullet-gray-small Issues of fairness, equity, diversity and tolerance


bullet-gray-smallA 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.”

bullet-gray-smallGay and Lesbian Victory Fund

bullet-gray-smallSheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 17 

bullet-gray-smallInternational Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222

bullet-gray-smallInternational Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 7

bullet-gray-smallInternational Union of Operating Engineers Local 4 

bullet-gray-smallInternational Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 6

bullet-gray-smallLaborers International Union Local 151

bullet-gray-smallSprinkler Fitters and Apprentices Local Union 550

bullet-gray-smallGreater Boston Labor Council

bullet-gray-smallPlumbers & Gasfitters Local 12 Boston

bullet-gray-smallMassachusetts Women’s Political Caucus

bullet-gray-smallRoofers and Waterproofers Local Union #33

bullet-gray-smallSEIU Local 888

bullet-gray-smallSheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union #17

bullet-gray-smallSierra Club

bullet-gray-smallBay State Stonewall Democrats

bullet-gray-smallInternational 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.

Previous story

E. Denise Simmons for City Council, 2015