Note: The below essay is by a candidate for City Council. All candidates are invited to submit such articles (and some others have) to explain why they are running for office, and their supporters are invited to submit as well (and some have) to explain why they back the candidate. Each item will be posted in the order received to be best of the editor’s ability. All will be lightly edited for publication. Submitted images may be used if they are of sufficient resolution, size and quality.

080513i-Dennis-BenzanFrom Dennis A. Benzan, vice mayor and city councillor, Oct. 19, 2015: After knocking on thousands of doors and participating in candidates forums, I’m more convinced than ever that we live in the greatest city in the world. Meanwhile, several candidates would lead you to believe that Cambridge is one of the worst. The toxicity of national elections is bleeding into our local elections, and it is unfortunate because that is not the kind of city we are. There is no place for this sort of divisiveness in Cambridge politics. We shouldn’t be focusing on cheap attacks or rhetoric. We owe it to the residents of Cambridge to look deeper.

Opinion boxI want Cambridge to be the “Complete City” that helped shape me into who I am today. I am the son of immigrants from Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. I was raised in public housing in Cambridge. In Cambridge, I was able to seize incredible opportunities to become the first in my family to graduate college and then law school. Every day, I go to work to bring our community together and give everyone access to opportunity.

In my first term, I’m proud to have taken on many issues facing Cambridge, but I’m most proud of my work tackling the opiate drug crisis by building leadership from within the groups affected, hiring summer interns ranging from Ivy League students to the previously incarcerated, working with elderly constituents to find emergency housing and increasing access to science, technology, engineering, arts and math workforce training.