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McGovern and Simmons Most Favored On Cambridge City Council Per Resident Survey

Mayor Marc C. McGovern's office is located in Cambridge City Hall.
Mayor Marc C. McGovern's office is located in Cambridge City Hall. By Jacqueline S. Chea
By Declan J. Knieriem, Crimson Staff Writer

In a poll of registered voters in Cambridge released Monday, Mayor Marc C. McGovern and City Councilor E. Denise Simmons garnered the highest approval rating among their peers, polling at 42.5 percent and 40.7 percent, respectively.

The Emerson College poll — conducted Sept. 6-8 — surveyed 400 Cambridge residents on their thoughts on City Council members, local issues, and demographics. It did not include polling about the upcoming Council election slated for this November.

Overall, the City Council received an approval rating of 33.5 percent, while 25.8 percent of respondents did not approve of its work. Roughly 40.6 percent were either unsure or had no opinion.

Of the city’s other current councilors, Timothy J. Toomey polled the next highest at 31.7 percent favorable, and Vice Mayor Jan Devereux and Councilor Craig A Kelley both recorded approximately 30 percent approval. Councilors Dennis J. Carlone, Quinton Y. Zondervan, Alanna M. Mallon, and Sumbul Siddiqui all had approval ratings below 30 percent.

No councilors received disapproval ratings above 25 percent.

The survey also included questions about significant issues facing Cambridge, as well as conditions in — and improvements to — prominent Cambridge locations such as Central Square.

Asked about which issue they considered the most important, 43.7 percent on those survey chose affordable housing. The second highest issue respondents cited — traffic — polled at only 13.4 percent.

Among other issues, crimes, drugs and opioids, and homeslessness all polled at a lower level of concern than bikes and bike lanes.

The survey also asked respondents how they feel about a proposed affordable housing overlay that would zone the entire city for affordable development. According to the poll, 38.3 percent support the measure, 31.7 percent oppose it, and 30 percent were unsure. Roughly 25.4 percent of respondents said they were unaware of the overlay’s existence.

Initially proposed in February, the zoning overlay would aid housing developers in competing with market rates by creating a more efficient permitting process for units that are classified as affordable. The overlay also incentivizes developing housing units that follow preferred dimensional standards with regard to height, open space, and the distance between buildings and property lines.

The proposal has seen extensive debate, both among councilors and by the general public. The overlay also promises to be a dividing issue in the coming November election. Of the 22 candidates running, several have voiced their doubts and grievances with the proposal.

— Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.

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