2021 Charter Reform Questions

         There are three important questions on the ballot about reform to the city charter, which describes Cambridge's form of city government. These questions are the beginning of work to change the charter and make our Cambridge government more responsive.  Many voters do not know about the ballot questions, so please share this info widely on neighborhood lists and with your friends.

City Charter Reform 
Help make our City Charter more democratic

VOTE YES on Ballot Questions 1, 2, & 3:

#1 Ends the City Manager’s sole control of all board & commission appointments by requiring Council approval;

#2 Creates an annual City Council review of the City Manager’s performance;

#3 Mandates a review of the City’s form of government every 10 years, starting in 2022. (There has been no review in 80 years.)

These questions are a beginning and it would be a big step forward for them to pass.  They are binding resolutions, and would go into effect January 1, 2022.

All eight of the incumbent councillors who are running for re-election urge a YES vote on all three questions.  Most groups are calling for Yes on all three ballot questions, including ABC, CResA, ORC, and DSA.

More info:

Many people are frustrated with the way the city is run.  We elect 9 city councilors, who elect the mayor from among themselves, and the councilors appoint the city manager.  Under our Plan E form of government, the City Manager (CM) has most of the power.  The CM appoints all the members of boards and commissions in the city, and they have not been representative of the community.  And much that the City Council passes does not get done if the CM doesn't want to do it.

One example that resonates so much now, especially with Covid, is the CM's opposition to pursuing municipal broadband.  Despite years of panels and city council votes, the CM has dragged his feet on getting a feasibility study and we are still stuck with a Comcast monopoly that is expensive and lacking in customer service.  

Some people want to consider bigger changes in the charter, such as: Should Cambridge elect the Mayor directly?  Should we have some Councilors represent Wards and some be elected citywide, instead of all being elected citywide as they are now?  Should the City Council have more power than it currently does?  Please help pass the three initial changes and then there will be a participatory public discussion of other changes.

If you have any questions or concerns on the ballot questions, please email [email protected] .

Thanks for taking action!

Lee Farris, Jonathan King, Shelley Riemann, Richard Goldberg, and Phyllis Bretholtz for the Executive Committee of the Cambridge Residents Alliance: Working for a Livable, Affordable and Diverse Cambridge



  1.  If you want to give out literature on Election Day or want a CResA yard sign, please contact [email protected]


PPS. Much of the language in this alert came from our member Rena Leib- many thanks!




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published this page in Elections 2021-10-29 09:19:08 -0400
Cambridge Residents Alliance