Jan Devereux for City Council, 2017
Devereux, a writer and communications specialist for schools as well as a graduate of Princeton and Columbia universities for a bachelor’s degree and master’s in business administration, respectively, has been a Cambridge resident since 1993 after living in Paris and Manhattan. Alarm over a “tsunami of piecemeal development” in the Alewife area – and the surprising finding it had already exceeded the amount projected to be built by 2024 – led to her co-founding and leading of the nonprofit, volunteer-run Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, which was her awakening to city issues after being complacent about “trusting that our city’s future was in good hands because my property tax bill remained low and city services worked well enough.”
She was the only non-incumbent elected to the council in the 2015 election, and was given leadership of its Health & Environment and Economic Development & University Relations committees. She is married and has three children.
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources.
Top three priorities:
Affordable housing. “As councillor and member of the Housing Committee, I fought to significantly increase the supply of affordable housing, especially for families. I supported regulations on short-term rentals that will prevent nonresident investors from commercializing our housing stock, though I opposed allowing hosting in ‘owner-adjacent’ units in three- and four-unit buildings. I would support a transfer tax to deter speculation and fees on long-vacant buildings to deter landbanking.”
Environment and sustainability. “As chairwoman of the Health and Environment Committee I have worked to make Cambridge greener by advocating for more aggressive action to protect and increase our tree canopy and by strengthening our commitment to sustainability. As a cyclist, I have fought to improve our network of protected bike lanes and to reduce speed limits to further our commitment to Vision Zero and to support sustainable mobility. I helped organize the 2016 Climate Congress, and confronting climate change will continue to be a priority for me if reelected.”
Civic engagement. “Meeting with residents from all areas, responding personally to their concerns and attending neighborhood meetings and committee hearings is my No. 1 priority. I have raised the bar for responsiveness and transparency and have modeled the kind of commitment to service and proactive communication that as a longtime resident I felt had been lacking in my representatives.”
Excerpted from Scout Cambridge. Read the complete profile here.
Cambridge Residents Alliance: “Jan Devereux was endorsed by the Alliance in her first run for office in 2015 based on her leadership of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance. She understands the concrete impacts of climate change on the low-lying flood-prone neighborhoods of the city and is a safe-streets activist. She won implementation of the new citywide 20 percent affordable inclusionary housing policy and proposes that one-third of tax revenues from the Volpe development in Kendall Square go to affordable housing.”
Massachusetts Voters for Animals
State Rep. Jonathan Hecht
State Representative Mike Connolly
Nadeem Mazen, retiring city councillor
Devereux has been a great councillor over the past two years, as expected from her previous capable and effective leadership of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance neighborhood organization.
She does her homework, speaks reasonably but firmly and provides a much-needed voice especially on wide-ranging topics under the rubrics of good government and environmental sustainability – cutting across a number of issues that matter hugely to the day-to-day experience of living in Cambridge, but sometimes in ways residents don’t think about. She sees nuance and adapts to it and is detail-oriented, whether the topic is the tree canopy, a welter of signs in Harvard Square or the experience of attending civic meetings. We like her revival of an idea for a public ombudsman to help citizens navigate and see processes through City Hall, and how she would make City Council more welcoming to citizens with child care, snacks and translation services; and we connect that with her interest in publicly financed elections, insistence on seeing public meetings televised and recorded and disapproval of the city’s comically extreme redaction of public records.
Devereux is a smart and common-sense but progressive candidate who has proven herself more than worthy of another term.