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City Council Plans to Increase Minority Representation in Municipal Leadership

On Monday, Cambridge City Councilors called on the city manager to create a plan to increase minority representation in government.
On Monday, Cambridge City Councilors called on the city manager to create a plan to increase minority representation in government. By Pei Chao Zhuo

The Cambridge City Council passed a policy order with unanimous consent to establish a plan to increase minority representation in municipal government leadership positions in its Monday meeting.

Sponsored by Councilor E. Denise Simmons, the policy will prioritize Black and Indigenous residents along with other residents of color.

As part of the order, the Council requests City Manager Louis A. DePasquale draft a plan to ensure that more individuals from those groups are recruited, trained, and given opportunities for leadership positions in city government.

“As you go up the ranks, it’s glaringly apparent that we do not have the same kind of diversity that we hold other people accountable to,” Simmons said.

“We should be abhorred and verklempt that we have done so poorly for so long,” she continued. “I’m hoping that my colleagues not only will adopt it, but will put their shoulder to the wheel of moving equity and access forward for underrepresented people and women in our city.”

Simmons also asked the Council to amend the wording of the policy order to explicitly include the Latinx community.

Later in the meeting, the Council also requested that DePasquale provide the appropriate staff and information needed to review and expand the Green Jobs program, which works to promote the City’s sustainability efforts and address climate change.

This policy order was sponsored by Simmons, Councilor Marc C. McGovern, Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon, and Councilor Quinton Y. Zondervan.

Zondervan said he is glad the Green Jobs program is back on the Council’s radar, explaining that he believes the program will bring about economic opportunity.

“Looking at what we’ve done over the last 10, 20 years — what has worked, what hasn’t worked — is really valuable in making sure that as we move forward, we ensure that the program is successful,” Zondervan said.

“It is really important to create more economic opportunity and to expand the types of jobs that we think about when we think about green jobs,” he added.

Simmons said she believes it is essential that government prioritize people of color in future programs that tackle climate change.

“When we talk about the environmental movement, it is woefully absent of people of color,” Simmons said.

Per Simmons, prioritizing people of color in the Green Jobs program is "an extraordinary way" to "engage and enlarge the interest of this often missed community."

—Staff writer Jennifer L. Powley can be reached at

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