Monday, May 20, 2024

Who will be your No. 1 vote for an independent, open-minded and fair city councillor?

I am alarmed how increasingly divisive councillors have become, influenced greatly by special-interest groups. Seven of the sitting councillors signed a Cambridge Bicycle Safety pledge about a law around installing bike infrastructure, promising “I will not vote for any proposal that weakens the ordinance or delays its timelines.” Councillors should not be shackled by such an inflexible pledge. Rather, they should be flexible and courageous enough to break the pledge as the community’s voice demands it.

We need new councillors who will be independent and vote for the good of Cambridge, not of any special-interest group. But who among the candidates can we count on to work for the betterment of the city we all love? I, for one, can’t support anyone who didn’t respond to my email asking “Are you the City Council candidate I am searching to support?” as obviously they are not. Among those who responded, councillor Dennis Carlone has proven over the years that he will fight for reasonable development; his recent stand against a project proposed for 2072 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge, is the latest example. And councillor Patty Nolan proved her mettle by pushing to have a second community meeting on the Dudley Street-to-Alewife Brook Parkway cycling safety ordinance implementation plan, delaying the lane striping until the meeting and hopefully after. They have earned trust and No. 1 votes from their strong bases. 

I am casting my No. 1 vote for Joe McGuirk. He has more than 30 years of unique life experience that no higher education can teach – welcoming anyone to the table, listening with sincere empathy and offering open-minded advice. He announced on his website that to sign the Bike Safety pledge “would surrender the responsibility and flexibility that is required when councillors consider changes that will impact all stakeholders … a better way is to build consensus among various folks within our community. Signing a pledge that would cut so many voices out of that process is antithetical to how I hope to serve our city.” I asked him to make commitments to me, which he said would extend to all Cantabrigians, that to his best of his abilities he will:

  • work for the interest of Cantabrigians, not for any special-interest group, regardless of any endorsements or campaign contributions;
  • reform city governance to bring about transparency, accountability and compliance to existing laws, regulations and guidelines and work to bring swift action on any allegation of non-compliance;
  • address any issue, be it affordable housing, rent stabilization or bike safety, to name a few, with all stakeholders involved cooperatively and equitably from the beginning;
  • seek talents from the community (students from MIT on a work-study program, for example) to implement a system to make city councillors, the city manager and all other city officials more responsive to Cantabrigians’ communications, including through the SeeClickFix system;
  • work to bring about city charter reforms to be in line with 21st century realities.

Don’t take my word for it, but do your own due diligence – and make Joe McGuirk accountable to his commitment if he wins with your No. 1 votes. Believe me, I will be the first one to hound him to follow his commitment. Are you going to vote for someone who will support affordable housing at any cost, even if it means breaking rules and regulations in the process and ignoring the concerns of the community? Are you going to give your precious No. 1 vote to incumbent councillors who knowingly ignored the state affordable funding agency’s written notifications and didn’t hold required 40B project eligibility public reviews? Are you going to allow your councillors to keep their special-interest pledges rather than listen to your concerns? If the answers are no, please join me in helping Joe McGuirk win a seat at the council table.

Young Kim, Norris Street