Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 22, 2017

Suggest Topics for Cambridge Municipal Election Candidates – 2017

Filed under: 2017 election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:49 am

Vote!Suggest Topics for Cambridge Municipal Election Candidates – 2017

Candidates for City Council and School Committee in each municipal election since 2003 have been asked to submit statements to be posted on their Cambridge Candidate Pages on a range of topics relevant to the respective offices. Candidates can also submit statements on other topics of importance to them and they can modify any statements all the way up to Election Day. There are no endorsements on the Candidate Pages – just an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves to voters. The request will soon go out to this year’s candidates. Are there any particular topic areas that should be on this year’s list? Please let me know what you think (or post a comment on this page) so that we can have a good starting point for all candidates. For reference, the topics from the 2015 election are listed below. – Robert Winters

Aug 26I am hoping to finalize the Topics Lists this weekend (Aug 26-27) before sending them out to all the candidates. If you have any additional input, now’s the time to send it to me. I now have 4 pages of suggestions to merge and distill into something as simple and flexible as possible for the candidates.

If anyone has managed to find email addresses for either Dan Lenke or Hari Pillai (or if you ARE Dan Lenke or Hari Pillai), please send me those email addresses so that all candidates can receive the same information and requests. – Robert Winters

City Council candidates were asked in 2015 about:
1) Background [biographical, etc.]
2) Top Priorities [List about three and elaborate below]
3) Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density
4) Economic Development and Commerce
5) Housing
6) Energy, the Environment, and Public Health
7) Traffic, Parking, and Transportation
8) Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
9) Municipal Finance (budget, assessments, property taxes, etc.)
10) Quality of Life and Public Safety

Other topics that you might wish to address (2015): Civic Participation, Government and Elections, Plan E Charter, City Manager, University Relations, Youth Programs, Senior Programs, Arts and Public Celebrations, Cambridge Public Schools, Future of the Foundry Building

School Committee candidates were asked in 2015 about:
1) Background [biographical, etc.]
2) Top Priorities [List about three then elaborate below]
3) Top Challenges Facing CPS today
4) Evaluation of the Innovation Agenda
5) School Department Administration and Superintendent
6) School Department Budget and Capital Needs
7) Achievement Gaps, Meeting the Needs of All Students
8) Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners
9) Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies
10) Curriculum and Programs
   a) Elementary School Grades
   b) Middle School Grades
   c) High School Grades

Any topics to add, delete, or modify?
(or comment below)


  1. Your 2015 list is VERY good! One additional item (for the council) that comes to mind is asking about improving bicycle safety, bike lanes, and other issues to improve bicycling in Cambridge. While this may be a subset of #7 and #10 above, I believe that this warrants its own question. I think we’re already doing more than most other cities, but there’s so much more that we can do. Thanks!

    Comment by Phillip Sego — August 22, 2017 @ 11:33 am

  2. Cambridge spent $27,568 per pupil in 2016 vs. a state average of $14,942. MCAS results were 46% of the Cambridge students taking the test scored either Need Improvement or Failed, the two lowest categories. Simultaneously, Cambridge African American Blacks scored 55 out of 100 against the district’s progress goal. How do you justify those results? What are the three priorities that you would undertake to change the trajectory?

    Comment by Alan Steinert Jr. — August 22, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

  3. I’d like to see City Council candidates talk about their plans for improving quality of life issues in Cambridge, for example:
    – Upkeep of our streets & roads
    – Upkeep and maintenance of parks
    – Removal of tree stumps that have been there for years, in some cases
    – Rubbish collection bins on Mass Ave., north of Porter Square
    – Trash in general along Mass Ave., north of Porter Square
    – Enforcing existing city ordinances around not putting out trash (garbage, furniture & free cycle stuff) before the normal collection day. It’s a drag to walk around the neighborhood and see peoples junk left out for days and days
    – Why are the streets and roads (at least in North Cambridge) covered with red, blue, orange, and pink graffiti noting where various gas, electric, water lines are located when there is no plan to do work on/in those areas? This appears to have started in the last 5-10 years and doesn’t look too good — some areas of the City have more of this graffiti than other parts of the city

    Comment by Mary Ferrro — August 22, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

  4. How to work with surrounding cities on common issues – particularly public transportation which can’t be solved by Cambridge alone.

    How to speed up the process for building affordable housing in the city to help address the income inequality issues.

    Comment by John Gintell — August 22, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

  5. City council:

    1) Can you give a concrete plan for affordable housing? If so, what?

    School committee

    1) The language immersion programs are vastly oversubscribed. What’s your plan?
    2) Putnam Upper School is not doing well. What’s your plan?
    3) We have great ideas for new initiatives. What do we cut back to fund them?
    4) Teachers are afraid to speak on many topics. How do we give back free speech?
    5) What would it take to extend the school day?
    6) What are your plans for engaging families in the 0-4 age range?
    7) The school committee meetings rarely get anything substantive done. How would you reorganize them?
    8) What do you think of the balance of administrators versus teachers in the district?

    Comment by Random Citizen — August 22, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

  6. 1. I would like to see the City take action to discourage the traffic on northern Mass Ave that is merely driving through the city. The street is effectively a 4 lane highway. Is it possible to make a bus lane, a car lane, and a bike lane? This might involve reducing parking, but the pedestrian environment would improve and might help local businesses.

    2. We are seeing an increase in empty storefronts on northern Mass Ave and elsewhere. Retail businesses are finding it difficult to compete with the internet. What are the ways that the City can help? Do we need to allow more residential areas in retail business districts if businesses can’t survive?

    Comment by Sally Eaton Arnold — August 22, 2017 @ 10:58 pm

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