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Candidate Profile: Charles W. Marquardt

By Julia K. Dean, Contributing Writer

Charles W. Marquardt is running for Cambridge City Council again this year, hoping to bring a different perspective to the race.

Marquardt, a local business owner and CPA, says he believes, now more than ever, that the City Council could use a different point of view, and is hoping to bring his own skill set to the council.

“My background is different than the other candidate’s backgrounds, I see a different part of Cambridge,” he says.

Marquardt’s business experience may be important to voters, as well. “A business background is key,” says Cambridge resident Cynthia J. Terwilliger. “I’ve seen Mr. Marquardt in the city council meetings. He really knows the budget issues and can speak to them.”

Marquardt foresees the next few years as ones of change for Cambridge, and says he feels that fresh leadership and new perspectives will help move the city forward.

Marquardt says he sees Cambridge as a rapidly developing city and wants to ensure that the evolution benefits the citizens of Cambridge, emphasizing that the change needs to respect the different cultures that pervade Cambridge’s neighborhoods.

“Each neighborhood has a style that I want to preserve and protect,” says Marquardt. “There are some neighborhoods that can take density, and some that cannot.”

Terwilliger, who lives in an area where there is ongoing development, says that she appreciates Marquardt’s commitment to work with the neighborhoods.

A key aspect of Marquardt’s campaign is dealing with what he calls the “unglamorous” aspects of the city infrastructure, such as the underground pipe system that deals with plumbing and water. Marquardt acknowledges that dealing with plumbing is not the most sensational aspect of government, but says it is a real issue within the purview of the City Council, and one that needs to be considered.

“City Council can affect sidewalks, underground work. It’s something they can actually do,” says Marquardt. “I want to simplify what the government does,” he continued.

As City Manager Robert W. Healy’s 30-year term runs to an end, Marquardt predicts that the task of appointing a new City Manager will fall to the City Council.

Marquardt plans to work with the other council members to create a description of the position of City Manager and cast a wide net to find the best person for the job. Marquardt also says that he believes it is an important part of the job of the City Council to make sure that the transition period for a new City Manager goes smoothly.

Marquardt points to the nearly $10 million settlement of the wrongful-termination lawsuit Malvina Monteiro vs. City of Cambridge as an example of a failure of the City Council to learn from its mistakes. The case took twelve years to resolve and was settled in August in favor of Monteiro, who said that Healey fired her from her position as executive secretary of the Police Review and Advisory Board after discovering that she was going to complain about racial discrimination.

The Monteiro Case sheds light on what Marquardt sees as one of the shortcomings of the current city council, who notes that he is frustrated with what he characterizes as the Council’s lack of self-reflection in the wake of the settlement.

“We have not yet had any discussion regarding what we learned and how we can change—it’s something you see in business all the time—we need to look backwards to see what went wrong, and then think about how can we apply those lessons to moving forward,” Marquardt explained.

Marquardt hopes to look to the universities for better planning in city council, mimicking the academic process of making long-term plans.

“I want to make two, five, ten, twenty five, fifty year plans,” says Marquardt. “It takes time and patience, but I think we can do it.”

In the long-term, Marquardt emphasizes the need for the Cambridge City Council to set aside money for liabilities, such as pension for retirees. Currently, the city promises pension to its citizens even though it does not have the money to provide the money immediately.

Cambridge currently has $624 million in unfunded liabilities, which, according to Marquardt, will rise to $1.8 billion by 2039. Marquardt believes that the city needs to set aside $22 million each year.

“I don’t want to saddle the future generations with our debts,” he said.

Also mindful of the current economic climate, Marquardt is campaigning for more affordable housing, noting that the middle class is increasingly being pushed out of Cambridge due to rising costs, engendering a polarized class environment.

“Losing the middle class families is bad for the fabric of Cambridge,” says Marquardt.

Marquardt points to relations with the universities in Cambridge as one possible way to alleviate the pressures on the middle class in Cambridge. According to Marquardt, graduate students living two or three to an apartment can drive the rent up to a cost that middle class families cannot afford. He believes if the universities offered more graduate housing, the middle class families might be able to afford to live in Cambridge.

Terwilliger recalls another candidate for City Council calling Marquardt “the nicest man running.” “He has the respect of his peers, and that’s how you get things done,” she says.

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