080513i-Dennis-BenzanI come from a relatively large town on the Queens-Nassau County border in New York. There, decisions are made via machine politics. This past summer, in spite of the continued difficulty of finding affordable housing in the area, the county executive proposed building a massive stadium on one of the few buildable lots because it will bring in additional revenue for the county government. We have no community center, no local pool and very few options for middle- and low-income housing. Dumping on our water reservoirs is rampant, and one of the biggest local polluters is the Belmont Racetrack, whose improper management of horse feces means that the water and air is regularly contaminated. In spite of that, the county executive felt that a stadium would be the best use of the land for the county and will be moving ahead with his proposal.

When I left home to come back to school here, I was committed to fighting to prevent the soccer stadium from going up in my hometown, but I also wanted to stand in solidarity with Cambridge residents who are in the midst of negotiating several large changes.

From the first time I met with Dennis Benzan, I knew he was the candidate I had to support. His vision for community-based decision making, particularly when long-lasting changes are being proposed, is inclusive, visionary and innovative.

Dennis was born and raised in Cambridge and has committed himself to building relationships with Cambridge residents from all walks of life. These relationships form the foundation of his work and his understanding of the issues facing Cambridge today.

I come from a place where I have lived and seen the reality of exclusion in community decision-making processes.  I have seen and lived with the repercussions of poor government decisions that did not take into account community needs.

This is why I have chosen to stand with Dennis Benzan, a candidate who has a strong vision for ways that the power of the City Council can serve the Cambridge community. I believe in his vision for a stronger, healthier Cambridge that supports youth with science, technology, engineering and math education; provides opportunities for job training; ensures that the elderly can obtain appropriate housing so that they can age with dignity; and supports affordable housing for middle- and low-income families.

Ketsia Saint-Armand, Cambridge resident and Harvard College student