Money and Houses: State Rep. Marjorie Decker Tackles the Issues at Spare Change News’ 21st Anniversary Gala

State Representative and Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker was one of a handful of speakers at Spare Change News’ 21st Anniversary Fundraiser and Celebration. She also acted as an enthusiastic, quick-witted auctioneer. Raised in Cambridge, she shined, entering dialogues with the diverse group of attendees at the event.

A democrat, and self-proclaimed “Cambridge progressive,” Representative Decker also knows a thing or two about her city. Currently she serves both as the new Massachusetts State Representative for the 25th Middlesex District, which covers most of Cambridge, and is closing out her 7th term on the Cambridge City Council. She has spent the past 14 years on the Cambridge City Council, fighting for its citizens, primarily securing funding and aiding resources. While building her base, she managed to step up into the statewide arena. To Representative Decker, politics is a local matter, especially given that she maintains roughly the same constituents during this transitional period.

In the City Council, Representative Decker chaired the Finance and Budget Committee for the last 6 years, where, according to her campaign website Decker4Rep.com, she was “overseeing $500 million in city funds.” She also chaired the Public Health and Housing committees. As a state representative, Representative Decker has been appointed to the committees on Financial Services, Health Care Financing, and Housing. She is a freshman, so only time will truly tell her efficacy at the state level. If her work as a city councilor is at all illustrative of her capabilities, it’s safe to say the 25th Middlesex District is in good hands.

Regarding Representative Decker’s newly elected position as a state representative, she said on her website, “While… Alice Wolf leaves big shoes to fill, I will continue to work every day to live up to the standard of excellence in public service that she set.” As a former legislative aide for former Representative Wolf (D-Cambridge), she certainly gained a more political perspective on the city that she grew up in and now represents. She also served as an aide for Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst).

In her 2012 election win, she beat out Republican write-in candidate Hasson J. Rashid, a Cambridge Community Television program host; Gayle E. Johnson, a former house and senate aide; and Lesley Rebecca Phillips, the founder of the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge and chairwoman of the ward 6 Democrat Committee. According to Cambridge Day, Representative Decker touted “more than three dozen endorsements,” which included Congressman Michael Capuano (D-MA) and her predecessor Representative Alice Wolf. Representative Decker also received endorsements from Cambridge City Mayor Henrietta Davis, the Sierra Club, and local labor unions.

Representative Decker won on a platform on job creation, targeting labor issues, and improving education programs. At the Spare Change News Anniversary Fundraiser, she said she would push for stronger programs that reduce homelessness, provide resources for the families and children of the homeless, and address the health care needs they require.

While many politicians fail to follow through, Representative Decker has a long track record of legislative follow-through. A sponsor for 9 bills and co-sponsor of about 130 bills, her efforts to improve the community have reached fruition by way of relentless policy making. Given her current committee appointments, Representative Decker will continue an agenda similar to her interests in city council – pushing for affordable housing, equitable health care, balancing the budgetary difficulties faced by the state, and improving the quality of life for all citizens.

Representative Decker was the first person in her family to graduate high school, and attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, graduated with honors from UMass Amherst, and earned a Masters from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on Human Rights and Children. According to her campaign website, prior to working in politics, she had worked closely with children as a first grade teacher and special education teacher with Teach for America. Her father is a disabled Vietnam Veteran, her mother a community activist that works with the homeless.

“I grew up in public housing,” she announced during her speech at the Spare Change News’ 21st Anniversary Fundraiser. Raised in North Cambridge, she has an understanding of the plight faced by the community, unlike most politicians. “I’m the first person in my family, for generations, to not live in public housing,” she continued. “It’s about children and families…I’m looking to you for help,” she told the crowd.

Regarding the current state of housing affairs in Cambridge, Representative Decker said, “Something’s got to change, because it’s broken… They say home is where the heart is. Well, home is where everything is.” When discussing the importance of eradicating homelessness and strengthening housing programs for vulnerable children and families, Representative Decker speaks authentically about her city.

–Jonathan Igne-Bianchi

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