As a founding board member of Abundant Housing MA, I’ve worked to supplement our municipal work on the housing crisis by working toward regional and state-level solutions, ensuring a Commonwealth with abundant housing for all. As a previous board member of ABC, I worked to advance inclusive growth in Cambridge, advocating for and helping pass the Affordable Housing Overlay.
As a member of my local community, I have participated in various ways to try to make it better. I have spoken at public comment in support of providing non-congregate housing for our unhoused population as well as for rethinking public safety to better support youths in our community. I've contributed to participatory budgeting, suggesting and supporting various youth engagement programs, mitigating traffic congestion, and aiding in climate preparedness. I've donated to local civic groups and participated as part of Our Revolution Cambridge in supporting local candidates through canvassing, phone banking, administration, liaising with existing Councillors, and technical support. I've also been a longtime and active member of the local entrepreneurial community in which I've offered support, advice, and guidance to local business owners.
I care a lot about low income and subsidized housing. I've interviewed ~1000 people who live in these properties; this connection and understanding is once again not present in the current council, and something unique and necessary I could bring to the table.
I'm running for City Council for just this reason.
In addition to being a leading advocate for passing the Affordable Housing Overlay, I spent much of this past term developing programs to provide direct assistance to our residents in response to the COVID19 public health crisis. When the pandemic began, I saw the immediate need to ensure that students who depended on school lunch and residents who depended on our food pantry network, both of which closed virtually overnight, could still keep food on the table. To respond, I helped set up both the Cambridge Food Line for residents who could no longer access food pantries to receive home deliveries of free groceries, and helped to establish and staff eight remote school meal sites which served 70,000 meals to students from March to June of 2020. Working closely with the Mayor, we developed innovative, flexible grant based assistance to our small businesses, Cambridge Artists and Arts organizations and our hard hit non-profit community. These programs infused over $4M to small businesses, $1M to non-profits and close to $1M for Artist relief and Arts Organization recovery. More recently, I have also worked with Mayor Siddiqui, Councillor McGovern and Mayors for Guaranteed income to establish a UBI pilot for single-caretaker households - beginning this month, 130 single-earner households in Cambridge will be given $500/month with no strings attached. Studies show promising results from UBI programs: recipients of direct-cash assistance overwhelmingly spend it on basic necessities like food and housing, and increased financial independence lowers rates of depression and anxiety. To increase transit equity, I have been working on a fare free MBTA bus pilot in Cambridge and worked with a local non-profit Cambridge Bike Give Back and the CambridgeSide Mall to ensure they had access to free, flexible space to provide bicycles to our low income residents. I have also co-sponsored amendments to the Cycling Safety Ordinance which will provide over 26 miles of protected bike infrastructure over the next 6 years.
I led the effort to more than triple incentive zoning payments from commercial developers, resulting in millions of dollars to the Housing Trust. I led the effort to increase our inclusionary zoning percentage from 11.5% to 20%. I led the effort to pass the AHO, which has already resulted in close to 400 units of affordable housing. I also brought free breakfast to every public-school student, started an immigrant legal defense fund, and expanded service for our unhoused residents. In addition, I have supported our environmental goals and bike lane infrastructure.
I have spent most of my life trying to keep a roof over my head and the heads of my family members. This struggle took up much of my time and energy. And I relied on my elected officials to do the right thing for lower income people. Now that my children are grown and I have the opportunity to look beyond the necessities of day to day life, I see that people in situations like mine need more advocacy.. One of the reasons I am running is that I know how hard it is for people of my income level to have the bandwidth to get involved, as we struggle to earn enough to remain in the city. I believe that the council should have a voice from those folks. My 30 years of tending bar locally has helped me to get to know my community in a very personal way. I know residents from all over the city, and from all walks of life. I let my career of treating all with the dignity and respect we each deserve be the standard of how we should all treat each other, and how I intend to serve as a council member.
Gregg J. Moree
I have always shared how to work, tell the truth, be good citizens and strive for integrity in pubic office.
As a School Committee member I pushed for attention to the low expectations and unbelievable lack of accountability and progress in closing gaps. I successfully made data-driven decision making and strategic planning and SMART goals be part of the school district governance. As a City Councillor I’ve been able to make significant progress on better governance (working on charter reform), municipal broadband (to finally getting an RFP written, albeit flawed), climate crisis (many actions), pushing for affordable home ownership, not just rentals, sustainability.
When we were forced to come back to work at the restaurant, I tried to advocate for better Covid prevention practices, higher wages to make up for lost tips, etc. It didn’t end up working out, but I don’t want to give up. Before I worked in restaurants, I worked at Fletcher Maynard Academy first as a paraprofessional and then as an ETS Teacher in sub-separate classrooms. Inclusion is something I care deeply about (also worked on inclusionary best practices in Boston Public Schools) and often informs my perspective on policy.
One of my main priorities has been around tenant displacement and affordable housing. During this last term, I was the lead sponsor for the the City of Cambridge Tenants Rights and Resources Ordinance, Chapter 8.71 of the Cambridge Municipal Code. The purpose of the Ordinance is to ensure that housing information and resources are widely disseminated and that best practices are implemented at the start of and throughout tenancies in order to maintain housing stability for the City’s residents, neighborhoods, and community.
In 2020 we were also successful in our efforts to preserve the affordability of the Fresh Pond Apartments, where I grew up. Through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City, we were able to preserve over 500 units – giving the families who reside there, and those that wish to reside there, a chance to live in Cambridge affordably.
In 2019, I submitted a Policy Order to increase funding to HomeBridge, a program that creates a pathway to homeownership in Cambridge. The additional funding was approved in November 2020, and we were able to expand eligibility to 120% of the area median income.
I was also the lead sponsor for a policy order around an alternative credit check system. Landlords and property management companies regularly use credit checks to make determinations about renting to potential tenants or employers making hiring decisions, and a low credit score or credit invisibility can limit housing choice and employment opportunities for low-income families. For housing in Cambridge, many residents have their applications denied for inclusionary units or private apartments due to the credit check requirements set forth by management companies. The City of Cambridge and new housing developments have an opportunity to lead the charge in creating new practices on reviewing a potential tenant’s application, including providing ways for applicant’s to file appeals if a decision is made solely on credit score, creating alternative tools to assess an applicant’s ability to pay rent and if certain circumstances led to a decline in credit score, among others.
To protect residents from eviction, displacement and homelessness, I increased legal aid funding to organizations that help residents facing housing instability, pushed our City to collect and analyze eviction data, and chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement, which has developed policies to strengthen tenant protections. One of the recommendations from this report was an ordinance around Condominium conversion, which I also introduced this term, and will be discussed.
E. Denise Simmons
If we’re focusing on housing: aside from working one-on-one with countless constituents in helping them navigate the local affordable housing market over the decades, advocating for them and counseling them, I have worked with a small group of housing advisors over the years to develop, propose, and push for the passage of numerous housing policies. I have served as either chair or co-chair of the City Council’s Housing Committee over the past several terms to vet legislation like the updating of our linkage program (nearly tripling the linkage fees), updating and doubling the mandatory amount of inclusionary units that developers must include in their residential developments, and most recently, I brought the citywide Affordable Housing Overlay District to the floor and worked to get that passed into law this term.
I care deeply about supporting local and independent businesses in Cambridge. I am the Executive Director of Cambridge Local First, a non-profit of 500 locally- and independently-owned businesses that promotes a local economy community by educating the public and government about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of a strong local economy. In this role, I have worked to empower lower-wage workers and the labor movement, fight for opportunities for small business owners against big business and big financial interests, advocate and educate on strengthening antitrust laws, and fight for greater racial equity. As more context on my work on worker ownership and antitrust advocacy:
I strongly believe in developing support systems for creating new cooperatives and employee-owned companies, which expand opportunities for building local wealth. I am already doing this work, by promoting the creation and expansion of worker cooperatives in Cambridge, and nationally, through education efforts.
For example, on December, 3, 2020, I organized a national conversation, “Keep local businesses thriving with employee ownership,” alongside Project Equity and the American Independent Business Alliance. Hundreds attended, and you can watch the video on Cambridge Community Television.
And, on April 1, 2021, we organized a Boston-area conversation on ESOPs and worker cooperatives, alongside the Sustainable Business Network of MA and The ICA Group’s Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership.
I firmly believe in expanding opportunity to small, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs. We have supported policies that eliminate obstacles to access for these groups.
For example, since the summer of 2020, we have partnered with Andree Entezari, a local activist, to advocate for Residential Kitchen Retail Sale permits. These would allow people to prepare safe foods ... (read full answer here)
I was a co-sponsor of the Affordable Housing Overlay, which passed this term after I was elected after having failed to do so the previous term because of a lack of votes. It is set to create hundreds of new affordable homes in Cambridge and cities including Somerville, Berkeley, CA, and Boston have all looked to Cambridge’s legislation as a model to pass their own AHOs or are considering them. I've also helped begin the organizing work to create a Community Land Trust in Cambridge, which will hopefully one day soon provide permanently affordable homes for Cambridge residents to rent and buy. And along with Mayor Siddiqui, who is the lead sponsor, I've helped introduce a Condo Conversion Ordinance that, if passed, would be one of the strongest tenant protections that Cambridge has enacted in years.
I was also the lead sponsor on Cambridge’s 2020 Cycling Safety Ordinance, which will create 20+ new miles of protected bike lanes in the next six years. We have some of the worst traffic in the country in Cambridge and have seen cyclist deaths almost every single year. The ordinance will save lives, reduce emissions, and reduce traffic by making it easier to get around the city without a car. I’ve also worked with other electeds in Cambridge and surrounding municipalities to advocate and plan for fare-free buses. We’ve seen cities including Boston announce fare-free routes, and I’m hopeful we’ll have some coming to Cambridge in the near future.
And I’ve fought for a city government that better represents the diversity of Cambridge and the priorities of its residents. That includes pushing for stipends for service on Cambridge's Board and Commissions, which have huge power over city affairs but are currently unpaid and not as representative of the city’s diversity. I’ve also pushed for increasing turnout for local elections with permanent early voting, same-day voter registration, and elections that coincide with state and national ones. And I’ve advocated for an end to the strong-City Manager/weak-City Council form of government to give the Council more power over the budget, approval of appointments, and the ability to contract for its own legal counsel. That also means moving away from an unelected City Manager—who in 80+ years has never been a woman or person of color—to a directly-elected Mayor so that Cambridge’s chief executive, who oversees the implementation of city policy, directs hundreds of staff, and proposes a $700 million+ budget, is accountable to voters.
Paul F. Toner
As stated above, I believe in giving back to my community and engaging in civic life. Most of my activity has been in teaching and advocacy in public education and advancing workers’ rights through the union. I have been Cambridge Public School teacher, Cambridge Teachers Union President, and the Vice President and President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. I am also a member of the Ward 11 Democratic and Cambridge City Democratic Committee, and have been involved in local, state and national electoral campaigns over the past 40 years beginning with sign holding for Mike Dukakis when I was 12 years old. I have also been a past member of the North Cambridge Stabilization Committee, Cambridge Youth Soccer and Hockey volunteer, member of the Friends of CRLS and participated in various neighborhood activities over the years.
As a community activist, I currently serve on the board of directors of five Cambridge non-profit organizations including: Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, Community Art Center, Vice President of Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, President of Cambridge Carnival International, and Affirmative Action and Outreach Officer of Cambridge Democratic City Committee. I have extensive experience providing mentorship and guidance to small, local, women and minority-owned businesses. I am the facilitator of the Cambridge-Somerville Black Business Network, an initiative that brings together Black entrepreneurs to aid them in advancing their careers. The network aims to ensure that minority-led businesses survive not only the pandemic but thrives moving forward. I am also an active Advisory Board member for Government Affairs of Cambridge Local First.
Through every event I organize, I have made continuous efforts to express my admiration of the arts and the creative economy. As a board member of the Community Art Center and president of Cambridge Carnival International, I have provided these organizations with marketing expertise that largely serves our Black and Brown communities.
My business, The Williams Agency, is a certified Sustainable Business Leader from the Sustainable Network of Massachusetts. As a sustainable food systems expert, I have advocated for local food makers and opportunities to advance the local food economy within Massachusetts. In my work in producing festivals, I have encouraged all of our vendors to conduct environmentally responsible practices, including compostable wares in serving food. Because of these efforts, in 2015, I was recognized as a Cambridge Food Hero for my work with sustainable food. I also launched the City of Cambridge's award-winning “alternative to driving” campaign: EXPRESS Yourself: Cambridge, the city’s first campaign to encourage alternative modes of transportation other than automobiles and to address pollution.
As a tenant organizer, after rent control was defeated, I organized with neighbors in my building and provided leadership so we could collectively own our units, successfully converting from renters to owners. I also provided technical assistance, coaching, and leadership development for tenants in Walden Square to organize and launch their own Tenant-led nonprofit so they, as leaders, can manage their programs and make programmatic decisions for their community.
As chair of the Public Safety Committee, I’ve led discussions on eliminating military weapons from the police, I’ve supported and scaffolded the development of the HEART proposal for shifting towards a community-based public safety response. I’m also exploring ways we can reduce the role of the police in routine traffic enforcement, strengthening accountability around the use of force policy, and scrutinizing police surveillance technology. I have led the effort to reallocate money from the massive police budget towards racial justice initiatives in other departments, in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives call to defund the police.
As chair of the Health & Environment Committee, I led the charge on getting to net zero emissions, reducing building energy use, and strengthening the Tree Protection Ordinance
Working with colleagues, I successfully advocated for reducing the speed limit to 20 MPH on most residential streets in Cambridge.
I helped pass and then further strengthen the Cycling Safety Ordinance; now we can expect a full buildout of the protected bike lane network within five years.
I’m a strong advocate for municipal broadband and joined colleagues in voting against part of the budget, which caused the City Manager to finally authorize a broadband feasibility study. In my first term, I was instrumental in advocating for the digital equity study which was recently completed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic my office provided strong constituent services and I’ve been a relentless advocate for equitable and widespread testing, data transparency,, and more outdoor spaces to safely recreate. I pushed back against efforts by the City Manager to prematurely reopen the city when it was not safe to do so. I was a vocal proponent of state-level action on tenant protections and small business relief and stood with Harvard’s janitorial workers against contracted employee layoffs.