Ilan Levy for City Council, 2021
Challenger running for council for the fourth time
Background: Software engineer | Focuses: Political reform, zoning
From 2019: What other ideas besides the Affordable Housing Overlay can be used to create affordable housing, and how can you create more housing while protecting existing tenants?
The overlay was a totally politically motivated conversation that started because of the failed Envision process – which was supposed to be a master planning exercise giving us a holistic vision of what Cambridge should be in five, 10 and 20 years from now. What we got instead was a process micromanaged by the city to come to a specific outcome, not holistic planning but just a couple of recommendation on some very specific issues. Then the conversation on the overlay became completely polarized between two different factions of the council and within the city itself. Neighborhoods were pitted against one another and it was very, very political, not at all trying to reach the actual goal.
From 2019: Describe your ideal city manager for this time and their qualities.
Plan E is a corporate set up, with a CEO in the appointed city manager and a board of directors in the City Council. The board chooses the mayor from amongst themselves, and very much like in any corporation the power lies with the CEO and the board is purely advisory. Instead we should select as mayor the candidate with the first highest No. 1 vote count and elect as vice mayor the candidate with the second highest No. 1 vote count.
Why are you running?
I’m using the election to launch a project: the Encyclopedia of Nonsense, a repository of imaginary solutions for our future cities. We need to stop thinking like economists. It destroys community. Community means we understand our interdependence with each other and nature – among the Amish, if a house burns down the community gets together to rebuild it; in ours, we call an anonymous insurer. We have forgotten our interdependence. We cannot afford to wait for a “leader.” We have to step up and barn-raise the vision for our cities. So I want residents to tell me and show me their vision for our cities.