Ilan Levy for City Council, 2015
Levy, of Belgian descent, has been a Cambridge resident since 2003 and a neighborhood activist since 2006. A software engineer when he is not being “an activist for justice and Democracy,” Levy is a new U.S. citizen – a step he took specifically to run for City Council, he said on the campaign trail, though he has been active in city politics for far longer, speaking out on development at the former Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge and even more vocally on the city’s halting, uncertain efforts at transforming the Foundry building.
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources
Levy is running independently.
Ward 6 Democrats endorsement?
The Ward 6 Democrats endorsed nine council candidates this year, choosing only from among registered Democrats and saying it “sought to recommend candidates who would bring the vision, skills and experience most needed to govern Cambridge at this time, regardless of slate affiliation.”
Score from ABC:
Levy didn’t turn in answers to a comprehensive questionnaire from the residents group A Better Cambridge measuring his level of agreement with the group’s “smart growth” platform of development- and transit-focused priorities and goals. In the words of the group, “higher-rated candidates demonstrate a strong understanding of the complex housing and development challenges facing Cambridge [and] are best prepared to make Cambridge a more affordable and livable city for all residents, especially low-income families.” There is a maximum score of 45 points.
The Cambridge Residents Alliance endorsed five council candidates this year. The residents group is focused on development and housing affordability issues and opposes projects it feels will gentrify neighborhoods or add to traffic and transit congestion. Its endorsed candidates were those it felt would “allow real planning”; refused campaign donations from “large developers”; and vowed to work for a citywide development master plan that prevented “overdevelopment and displacement.”
Levy’s platform is exceedingly clear: He wants an end to Cambridge’s Plan E Charter form of government, which he deems “a paternalist white privilege form of government,” and a return to a directly elected mayor. He seeks term limits, publicly financed campaigns and clarity and simplicity in processes that will lead to more transparency in municipal affairs.
Nearly every answer by Levy on the campaign trail leads back to the idea of quitting Plan E at the end of the current city manager contract, because he says the form has had a corrosive effect on Cambridge as a community and as a democracy. “We’re at a critical time in our city. The format of our government is why everyone’s [been talking] about affordability and the environment. We need a mayor because we need a vision for the city,” he says. “Currently we have no way to establish this. The main directive of Cambridge is revenue. And that shouldn’t be. The main directive of Cambridge should be its people.”
“It’s really a catastrophe,” he says.
His reform is unlikely to happen, but less likely things have happened. Certainly for voters who believe in radical steps and transformative thinking, Levy has a provocative and perhaps appealing idea.