Friday, June 21, 2024

Incumbent first elected in 2019 and seeking his second term in office

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Background: Land policy consulting | Focuses: Affordable housing and tenant protections, climate change, transportation 


From A Better Cambridge, Sept. 19: What’s the No. 1 strategy or policy you want the next City Council to pursue on housing?

The main thing I want the council to do is treat housing as a human right and stop letting it get blocked. I was a co-sponsor of the Affordable Housing Overlay. I’m proud to have gotten elected in 2019 and been a deciding vote to get it passed. And we need to expand the AHO to make sure that boards such as the Board of Zoning Appeal can’t keep blocking affordable housing such as 2072 Massachusetts Ave. We also need to create a Cambridge community land trust and to end exclusionary zoning citywide that prevents the creation of more affordable housing, including triple-decker apartments and larger parts of the city.

From the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition: How would you increase the diversity of voices on city projects and as members of Cambridge boards and committees?

We need to meet people where they are. That means going into neighborhoods to talk to residents, gathering input at parks, churches and tenant council meetings and ensuring that outreach is done not just in English but in the first languages of residents – including Kreyol, Bengali, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Amharic. We must provide child care at city meetings, which nonprofits and churches often do already, as well as translation services. We should also make Zoom public comment permanent so residents who may not be able to attend meetings in-person can still contribute. Requiring City Council approval for city manager appointments will also ensure greater oversight and diversity, since these bodies have a huge role on matters from housing to police oversight and historical preservation. I was proud to help push for a charter amendment that would require confirmation of appointments.

From the Cambridge Citizens Coalition, Sept 26: Cambridge is about to hire a city manager. Describe your ideal city manager for this time and their qualities.

Unlike many other municipalities in Massachusetts, Cambridge is more than $150 million away from our annual Prop 2½ levy limit because of our larger commercial tax base. Ensuring that whoever the Council hires next as city manager is willing to prioritize pressing city needs such as affordable housing, reducing traffic and responding to climate change over fiscal conservatism and keeping rates low for corporate landholders and well-off property owners will allow us to generate millions more dollars for affordable housing that we can put to use. I’m also a strong supporter of municipal broadband in Cambridge to end the virtual Comcast monopoly on broadband Internet. Nearly 50 percent of low-income households do not have access to broadband, and all of us are stuck with too few options for Internet, with inadequate service and high costs. The city manager has been the main obstacle to municipal broadband in Cambridge, which was one of the reasons I voted not to extend his contract. With the hiring process for a new city manager on the way, we must make sure they have a clear plan and commitment to implementing municipal broadband.

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Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler for City Council, 2019