Monday, July 22, 2024

101413i-Leland-CheungI moved to Cambridge to study biotechnology, but chose to stay because of the vibrant intellectual and innovative community here. Even though I’ve lived in Cambridge for seven years, I’ve never voted or taken any interest in the local elections until now. Many of us in the technology fields are apathetic to national politics, and barely cognizant about city politics. Only recently did I realize just how much of what I do everyday intersects with the local community. Our technology was originally developed at Harvard and MIT, we had our first desk in the incubator space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, we’ve since created more than 60 jobs in Cambridge with plans to double that number in the coming year, and we live and play here – going to the Friendly Toast, having lunch at the Kendall rooftop park and jogging along the Charles.

All of that was made possible by local politics.

Biotech’s success here is thanks first to the way the local government has worked productively with its businesses and second to Cambridge’s efforts to create a livable, diverse and innovative community that works for everyone. These two things are nuanced, sometimes in conflict, but both necessary going forward. I’m voting for the first time because I’ve seen over his first two terms that Cambridge city councillor Leland Cheung was the missing link between those two efforts. With his background in technology, venture capital and Cambridge, Leland is a unique combination that understands how to support a growing biotech community and how to tie it back to the community at large. He’s helped growing startups find new space, engaged local tech communities in supporting national candidates and local charities and organized video conferences between Cambridge and other biotech hubs, such as Basel, to exchange municipal best practices.

What really sets Leland apart and ensures he’s not thinking just about businesses, but how businesses can contribute to the local community, is his radical responsiveness. Many residents have experienced e-mailing the entire council and only hearing back from Leland. He lists his cellphone everywhere. You can even get in touch with him, as I recently did, by going to his website and chatting with him live.

Biotech innovators need to contribute to the local community as much as they’ve benefited from it, and that starts by voting Leland Cheung No. 1 for City Council on Nov. 5.

Tony Hung, Hancock Street