Mariko Davidson for City Council, 2015
Davidson grew up in Hawaii with a single mother, coming to Cambridge to earn a master’s degree in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has served in Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s administration and for open data efforts with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is now managing director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, a civic-focused new media lab. She describes herself as a community organizer, civic activist, renter and a year-round cyclist, and says she is “passionate about making our city more equitable and affordable. Government should serve us – not special interests.”
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources
Davidson is running with the Slate for Cambridge with councillor Nadeem Mazen, council candidate Romaine Waite and and School Committee candidate Jake Crutchfield.
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:
The residents group A Better Cambridge rated 19 out of 22 candidates for City Council (all who responded to a comprehensive questionnaire) measuring their 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.”
As a member of the Slate for Cambridge with councillor Nadeem Mazen and council candidate Romaine Waite, Davidson has agreed to promote himself for a No. 2 or 3 vote, and she is worthy of that at the least: She’s a progressive, youthful voice who reflects not just the diversity of the city but can help shape it – her degree is “in how to design cities that work for all people,” as she puts it. “I discovered that the way we build our cities determines our access to opportunity. The ZIP code we live is in one of the key factors in determining your life success – your housing, your transportation, your access to jobs.”
Like her slate running mate Waite, Davidson supports a directly regional approach to housing and linkage fees that would include discussion with Somerville and Boston to help raise a developer “linkage” fee that helps build affordable housing to about twice what the council recently approved.
She vows to fight for a $15 minimum wage, more affordable housing, protected bicycle infrastructure and “real community engagement — in person and online.”
As a candidate, it is encouraging to see how significantly more poised she became on the campaign trail, and so rapidly. A ferocious learning curve, diploma from MIT and devotion to public service forms a good résumé for a high-ranking council vote.