City of Cambridge

City Council

Photo of the Sullivan Chamber in City Hall The City Council, the policy setting arm of the City, derives its powers from the City Charter and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The City Council authorizes public improvements and expenditures, adopts regulations and ordinances, establishes financial policies and performs many related legislative tasks.

Tips and FAQs

About the City Council

The City Council, the policy setting arm of the City, derives its powers from the City charter and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It authorizes public improvements and expenditures, adopts regulations and ordinances, levies taxes, controls the finances and property taxes of the City, and performs many related legislative tasks.

The City Council is elected at-large by the proportional representation electoral process. Upon organization of each new Council, the members elect a Mayor and a Vice-Mayor, with the Mayor serving as the Council's chief legislative officer. The Council organizes into committees, which have become increasingly active over the past few years, providing much of the research and legislative analysis on major policy issues before the Council.

The City Council meets regularly on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. from the first Monday in January to and including the last Monday in June, and from the second Monday in September to and including the last Monday in December in the Sullivan Chamber on the second floor of City Hall. Approximately one meeting each month is scheduled as an informal roundtable discussion meeting at which no votes are taken. Business meetings are televised live on 22-CityView, the Municipal Channel, and rebroadcast on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. They are also live streamed on the Open Meeting Portal.

The City Council's regular business meetings are conducted in accordance with the City Council Rules.  The City Council meeting agenda is generally posted online by 5:30 p.m. on the Thursday before the meeting on the City Council Open Meeting Portal. Copies of the agenda are generally available between 10 a.m. and Noon on Fridays at the City Clerk's Office. Please note that City Hall closes at Noon on Fridays.

Members of the public may speak at the public comment section of the scheduled business meeting for up to three minutes on any matter that is being considered by the City Council for action at that meeting (the public may not speak on items in the communications section of the agenda during public comment). You may sign up to speak by calling the City Council Office at 617-349-4280 on Mondays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., or by signing up at the meeting between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

To have an item placed on the City Council agenda for action at the meeting, contact a City Councillor to request that he or she submit an order or resolution to the City Clerk to be placed on the agenda.

The agenda is also the way to send a letter to the City Council that will become part of the formal record of City Council proceedings. The letter should be addressed to the City Council, care of the City Clerk. The City Clerk will place all new communications on the agenda for the next regular City Council business meeting. Such letters, if they are about issues that are not otherwise on the Council's business agenda, are not considered part of the action agenda for that meeting, and thus, public comment on these communications is out of order.

2016-17 Cambridge City Council

2016-17 City Councilor group photo

Pictured in Front Row: Dennis J. Carlone, Jan Devereux, Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Leland Cheung, and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern.
Back Row: Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Nadeem A. Mazen, Craig A. Kelley, and David P. Maher.

Goals and Objectives of the City Council

About the Objectives and Goals

This pamphlet outlines the objectives and goals of the City Council for July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013.

The goals are the product of an in-depth bi-annual process that the City Council has followed since 1996. The Government Operations and Rules Committee is charged with overseeing the goal setting process for the Council.

Since 2000, the process has included a statistically valid telephone survey of the opinion of Cambridge residents with regard to city services and city government. The process also includes an opportunity for Cambridge citizens to gather together to voice their concerns and opinions about what the City Council should focus on in setting its goals. This year, the Government Operations and Rules Committee hosted it's second annual "World Cafe" - an interactive conversational format that allowed diverse and creative points of view about Cambridge's needs to emerge as the public comment opportunity. A cross section of Cambridge residents spent the evening in a series of facilitated dialogues on the topic of "What is it important to focus on to improve life in Cambridge?"

This year the City Council took a different approach to setting city goals. They used the information from the citizen satisfaction survey and the World Cafe as well as results from a roundtable discussion on the goals to set broad, overarching goals for the next fiscal years. Instead of moving on to develop more specific objectives at that time, the City Council chose to develop that level of detail in a more collaborative way involving the City staff whose work encompasses the subject area of the particular goal. Especially in this time of continuing financial uncertainty and declining federal and state support, the City Council and the City's administrative staff need the flexibility and collaboration that will ensure that the City's most pressing needs are addressed in accordance with our highest civic aspirations. The goals were adopted by the City Council on December 13, 2011. These goals will guide the annual budget planning process.

Timothy J. Toomy, Co-Chair
Sam Seidel, Co-Chair
Government Operations and Rules Committee

Mission Statement

The City of Cambridge is dedicated to continuing to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community in an environment of excellence while maintaining a strong financial position including awareness of the impact on taxpayers.

The Objectives and Goals of Our City Council

  • Foster Community and support Neighborhood Vitality. Support opportunities for citizens to participate and to know each other within their neighborhoods and across the city. 
  • Evaluate City expenditures with a view of maintaining a Strong Fiscal Position and awareness of the Impact on Taxpayers while providing a high quality array of city services. 
  • Strengthen and support Human Services, Public Education and Out of School Learning in Cambridge for the benefit of residents of all ages. 
  • Value and support the racial, socio-economic, cultural and religious Diversity of our city. 
  • Promote Public Safety and address the challenges and opportunities for multiple modes of transportation to safely share roads and sidewalks. 
  • Promote a Healthy Community and Environment to advance Cambridge as a leader in public health and environmental sustainability. 
  • Preserve and create Affordable Housing across the City for low, moderate and middle-income families and other residents. 
  • Promote Doing Business in Cambridge and work to strengthen our mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses and universities.

City Council Meeting Final Actions

Last Updated: 3/15/2017 | Provide feedback on this page

Got feedback?

Please provide your feedback below: