Saturday, July 20, 2024

This Nov. 5 election will define the future of the city.

The Cambridge Citizens Coalition was formed in May by neighborhood leaders concerned about the city and its direction. We selected a slate of impressive candidates representing diverse viewpoints, demographics, renters and owners, and districts. Our Action Fund slate of eight candidates is made up of Dennis Carlone, Craig Kelley, Derek Kopon, Patricia Nolan, John Pitkin, Ben Simon, Nicola Williams and Quinton Zondervan. (See for bios and candidate core issues).

All share core values with the coalition and the need to get big money out of city policy. Consistent with this all, the endorsed candidates have agreed not to take donations from developers and others doing commercial business with the city; incumbent members on a slate from the A Better Cambridge Action Fund benefit from donations from developers and the building trades averaging more than $7,000 per candidate – money that benefits their whole slate. The CCC-AC slate incumbents also are supported far more by local Cambridge donations (70.8 percent) than the A Better Cambridge incumbent slate (53.6 percent) that depends on outside money. Cambridge policy should be by and for Cambridge residents.

Our coalition was founded around the proposed Affordable Housing Overly plan that would remove current citizens’ rights of legal appeal, weaken Planning Board design oversight and bring potential loss of mature trees, open spaces and local businesses. There are far smarter, more equitable ways to address affordable housing and the underlying problems of gentrification that push out African Americans and other residents.

The controversial Affordable Housing Overlay came within one vote of passage by the two-thirds supermajority standard. All incumbent members of the A Better Cambridge slate (Alanna Mallon, Marc McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, E. Denise Simmons and Tim Toomey – the council’s majority) voted doggedly at committee meetings for the overlay; all three coalition incumbents (Carlone, Kelley and Zondervan – plus vice mayor Jan Devereux, who is not running for reelection) opposed the overlay after the council majority opposed key amendments to safeguard green spaces, improve design criteria and ensure more citizen engagement.

If Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to change zoning votes from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority succeeds, deeply flawed proposals such as the overlay will succeed.

Every single election vote matters. It will help determine if the city embraces developer-driven policies and politics or refocuses on Cambridge residents.

We encourage residents to vote for the coalition slate for a more responsible City Council majority!

Suzanne P. Blier, for the Cambridge Citizens Coalition Action Committee