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Davis Stresses Environment, Housing

By Frank Dabek

Henrietta Davis is a three term incumbent councilwoman running on the progressive Cambridge Civic Association slate. Davis’ campaign focuses on managing development to maintain the character of Cambridge, protecting the environment, and guaranteeing affordable housing.

As Chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee of the Cambridge City Council Davis has worked to protect the environment by encouraging alternative means of transportation, such as bicycles and shuttle buses. Davis would “like to see shuttles like MIT shuttles but open to the public.”

In addition, Davis said that she is “very supportive of increasing safe transportation in the late hours” in Cambridge. Late night transportation is a plank of fellow CCA candidate Erik C. Snowberg ’99.

Development in Cambridge, especially in the Central Square area, has been a hot button issue in this campaign. Davis says that she is interested in keeping “Central Square a vibrant community square.”

She hopes to bring more people and shopping to the area, especially more “value oriented stores.” She characterized Marshall’s and the Mass. Army Navy stores as a “good match” for the square. Davis is not opposed to the Gap store which is planned for the Central Square area. The “Save Central Square” group is actively fighting the construction of the store.

Davis also supports the creation of a new public library somewhere near the central square area, and hopes for MIT’s assistance in building the library.

MIT has to be best citizen

“MIT has to be [Cambridge’s] best corporate citizen,” Davis said. The Institute should be “looking out for the interest of the community” as well as its own.

She called on MIT to “share its intellectual resources” with the city and become involved in providing affordable housing. The Institute has constructed housing in the past and should do so again, she said.

Other construction, such as the planned undergraduate dormitory on Vassar street, should be planned with the city in mind, she said. The dorm in particular should not be built in such a way that it is visually appealing only when viewed from campus. In addition MIT should provide open spaces on its campus instead of borrowing open spaces from the public.

A proponent of affordable housing, Davis has called for increasing the percentage of affordable housing to 15 percent (from the current 14) and providing monetary assistance to those who are too wealthy to qualify for state or federally funded housing but who still could not afford to live in Cambridge.

Davis does not support rent control in the form in which it previously existed in Cambridge. “If I were to support any rent control [legislation] it would have to be different,” from the previous legislation. That legislation “caused so much conflict” that it was unfeasible, she said.

History in city government

Before becoming a city councillor, Davis was a member of the Cambridge School Committee from 1988 to 1995.

She said that she is a full-time councillor working “24-7” on council tasks.