Candidate Profile: David P. Maher
Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher, who is up for reelection this term, lives just around the corner from where he grew up.
Maher, who has resided in Cambridge all his life, has extensive experience in City politics; he has served four terms on the School Committee and six terms on City Council, and is currently the chair of both.
Maher says he is committed to completing and expanding upon the projects he has undertaken during his time in office, while tempering the ideological with the practical when it comes to politics.
“It’s about taking a pragmatic approach to local government and to being able to understand the environment that we’re in, the challenges we face, and trying to address all of that,” he says.
Maher says his father, who was a police officer, encouraged his commitment to public service.
“He instilled this sense of giving back to the community and so I would definitely say he had a major impact on my getting into politics,” he says.
Another early source of inspiration was former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated when Maher was five. “I think that sense of giving back to the community and people stepping up to be heard is something that I admired both as a young child and something that shaped me a little bit as a teen,” Maher says.
During his tenure, Maher has worked to improve the quality public education in Cambridge, both in terms of programs and facilities.
Maher recently worked to pass the Innovation Agenda to improve Cambridge public education, an initiative that will revamp public schools. The schools, which used to be K-8, will now be K-5, and Cambridge will see the advent of 6-8 schools. Roughly 80 children per grade will attend each of these 4 junior high school campuses. This change will be implemented in September 2012.
Maher calls the initiative “amazing,” adding that the end goal is to create more academically rigorous schools.
In addition, Maher has overseen the renovation of Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the city’s high school.
Coupled with four elementary schools that Maher will be rebuilding, the total construction price is over a quarter of a billion dollar investment in public education.
“We’ve go to get this right. We owe it to the kids that go here,” Maher says. “If there is any community that can do it right it is Cambridge,” adding that Cambridge spends more money per student than any other city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Ruby Pierce, a friend of Maher who worked at Cambridge Rindge and Latin for 34 years and the Cambridge NAACP Education Chair, emphasizes the importance of Maher’s work, noting the glaring discrepancy that currently exists between the quality levels at different public lower schools. She says that she can usually identify which school each high school student went to just by talking to them.
Pierce says that Maher brought together a divided school committee to pass this educational agenda. She said she believes that if Maher is not reelected to the city council it could be “detrimental” to the implementation of his plan.