City Councilor's Throw Down While Talking Town!

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4 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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City Councilor’s Throw Down While Talking Town!


In advance of the Nov. 6 elections,
the
Progressive Democrats of Cambridge
-
Democracy in
America joined

The Alewife

in
sponsor
ing

a Sept. 5
Candidates F
orum to inform the
public of
the
PDC
-
DFA's endorsement p
rocess at the
S
enior
C
enter

in
Central Square
.


“On behalf of the PDC and Democracy for America, I’d like to welcome everyone to the 3rd Bi
-
Annual City Council Candidates Forum… thank you all for coming out,” said Lesl
ey

Phillips,
chair of the PDC
-
DFA, as
she opened the debate and detailed the evening’s procedures.

Assembled before a backdrop of PDC, DFA and PDA flyers, 15 out of 16 candidates running for
City Council participated in the event.

After the obligatory introductions and opening statements were
delivered by all 15 candidates,
the candidates were then given a chance to address several major issues affecting the city
-

with additional questions from the audience to follow.

Clearly, the most pressing issue had to do with the city’s lack of affordabl
e housing for middle
and lower income families.

When asked how the prospective candidates might help solve the
affordable housing crunch in the city, a myriad of responses followed.

“I believe that affordable housing should be my number one priority once
I’m elected into office
,

said incumbent Marjorie Decker.

“There’s been lots of talk about improving the situation


I
think one way is to provide higher paying jobs for our citizens while simultaneously minimizing
the inherent tradeoffs that added urban
development brings.”

David Maher, who is now filling the vacancy left by Michael A. Sullivan's resignation, said he
agreed.


“Affordable housing continues to be a big issue.


We should implement the adoption of
inclusionary zoning bonuses for developers, g
iving future builders a 15 percent bonus in lieu of
a 15 percent allocation of total units slated as affordable housing.

This could have a major
impact in the city, as several hundred units are being built over the next few years.”

There was a general con
sensus among the group about the severity of the issue, with all
agreeing that something had to be done


and soon.


And in the spirit of team and good
sportsmanship, all
of
the candidates were very amicable and courteous toward one another
throughout the
debate.

Taking great care, one by one they conscientiously stepped over
Kathleen Podger’s assistance dog after waiting patiently for their turn at the mic.

“Yes, it’s a difficult problem for sure, and we may never fully close the gap with regard to
afford
able housing and low income families,” said Sam Seidel, who finished 10th for the nine
spots on the council in 2005.


Luckily, the rental market in the city is somewhat flexible, as providing even a couple hundred
units to lower income citizens would not b
e adequate for a city of Cambridge’s size
-

the real
problem lies with the elderly and wait listing," he said.

Challenger Larry Ward said, “I think Cambridge has done a good job in many areas, but we as
leaders still need to think innovatively when confron
ting these issues.


Even as Harvard
continues to build all around us


why can’t people who’ve grown up in the city and have
supported the city own properties in the city?

This is the issue that must be resolved.”

The candidates were then asked what they
thought the Election
C
ommittee should do to boost
voter turnout, a question prompted by the fact that the municipal election turnout in 2005 was at


an all
-
time low of just over 16 thousand voters


barely half the municipal voter turnout from a
decade earl
ier.

“I think it’s up to us as politicians to make sure the people’s voices are being heard, that we
need to make you feel confident you’re being listened to,” said Craig Kelley, now serving in his
first term.

City
Councilor

Denise Simmons said, “I believe

voter education should be an ongoing process,
and we should continue to actively engage and invite churches and schools into the process
which will get youngsters more involved.”

“We need to boost programs in the high school and youth centers to get the k
ids involved, we
also need to ask registered voters why they’re not going to
the
polls.

We need to get feedback
from them.

I also ask: why do we always vote on Tuesdays
-

why not vote on Saturdays?

Most
people are very busy, and they can’t always make i
t into the polls during the week,” said Edward
J. Sullivan, who is hoping to continue his family’s 72
-
year tradition of serving the city of
Cambridge.

He joined the race upon his cousin's August resignation.

City
Councilor

Timothy J. Toomey Jr. said, “I s
upport same day voter registrations.

I also want
to change the dynamic of how our election commission is selected and open it up to the other
parties, like the Green and Independent parties.

This may help to infuse some new energy into
the process.”

Ward

said, “We need to bring something to the table to make our voters vote.

We need to
increase our youth’s awareness of the issues and their involvement in them.

We need to figure
out how to get these messages online to spread the word.”


We have to give p
eople a reason to vote, get them excited about voting.

It comes down to our
outreach programs and being more aggressive with registering new voters.

We have to get in
people’s faces and ask them
-

hey, got a minute for democracy?

We’ve got to engage peo
ple,”
said Brian Murphy.

Challenger Jonathan Janik said, “People feel disconnected with the political process and local
government.

I believe we can do more to show people that what happens in City Hall is
relevant to them.


We need to talk face to face w
ith voters who are staying at home.

Let’s learn
what de
-
motivates voters and what their reasons are for not voting, so we’ll learn more about
how to improve the process and encourage participation across the board.”

As the evening waned, and as their meas
ured opportunities
to

enlighten were quickly expiring,
the candidates responded sporadically to the last query put forth
-

How would you define being
a progressive leader?

Do you believe you’re a progressive leader


and if so, why?

“I embody progressive
leadership.

It’s having the courage to stand up and do the right thing,
and not being afraid to get messy sometimes.

It’s all about showing active leadership in the
community,” said Decker.

“I believe it’s all about accountability, responsibility and tru
thfulness,” said Kevin Moore, another
challenger.

“Being progressive means actions speak
ing

louder than words.

I want to make Cambridge a
laboratory for democracy.

Being progressive means insuring immigrant rights, increasing
affordable housing and commu
nity involvement.


It means instituting green standards and
improving the quality of life in Cambridge,” said Toomey, who is also a state representative for
East Cambridge.



Simmons said, “Being progressive means making things happen in the community.

Bein
g
progressive means involving the public by spreading the word.

I think being progressive means
being proactive, not reactive.”